The announcement will not please business bankers: Orange decided to go it alone for at least the next five years. On the occasion of the presentation, this Wednesday,
the new strategic plan,
the operator controlled by Stéphane Richard has dismissed any major merger and acquisition until 2025. "This plan does not include any external growth assumptions", acknowledged the boss of Orange before the financial analysts gathered in Paris.
Because of its size, its presence in 26 countries and its financial capacity, Orange has for a long time been a natural candidate to consolidate a still highly fractured European telecommunications market. The Old Continent has a hundred operators, against
three in China
and soon three in the United States, the US authorities having
recently validated the mega-merger project between T-Mobile US and Sprint.
"Orange has a debt of 25 billion euros, twice our Ebitda, against three times at Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom. This means that we can mobilize an additional 10 to 15 billion euros for investments, explained Stéphane Richard to the press. But to program M & A, I do not know how to do it. This is only possible on small operations. "
Setbacks in Belgium and Romania
Stéphane Richard has also denied any plans to merge with Deutsche Telekom, while last week the German daily "Handelsblatt" claimed that the German operator was considering swallowing Orange, with the key "Important synergies". "There is no project in this sense, these rumors were very curious, launched Orange's boss on Wednesday. The Orange-Deutsche Telekom merger is an endless story, there is no discussion going on and this short-term project is not on the table. "
The group has certainly achieved several "deals" totaling 1 billion euros in 2019,
including the acquisition in the spring of the Dutch SecureLink for 515 million euros.
But these operations have concerned each time the market for business services (cybersecurity …).
In the buy-backs of telecom operators, on the other hand, if it has considered several hypotheses, none has come true at this stage … In Belgium, for example, the cable operator Voo fell under its nose, in favor of US investment fund Providence, which has pledged to buy back 50% of the capital (plus one share) of the company.
where Orange has just launched 5G, the group is also very interested in the acquisition of the fixed network of Telekom Romania, owned by Deutsche Telekom. But this issue stumbles on political and competitive obstacles.
Prudence in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, Orange is also closely following the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom, the incumbent operator of Africa's second most populous country, while remaining cautious. "The political situation in Ethiopia is far from clear. It's not Finland! We have positioned ourselves, we have an office on the spot and have appointed a manager, but there are political hazards, regret Stéphane Richard. Let's not forget that Ethio Telecom is the incumbent operator of an old communist country, and for the moment it is mainly offering … a beautiful 2G. "