French Telecom group Orange may on the verge of acquiring certain of Bharti Airtel’s assets in the African continent. As per a statement by the company, it is in exclusive negotiations to purchase four African subsidiaries from the Indian telecom giant, reports ZDNet.
Orange and Airtel have entered into an exclusive agreement to explore the possible acquisition by Orange of Airtel’s subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, and Sierra Leone.
There was however,”no certainty of any binding agreement as a result of these discussions”
This is not the first time that the companies have met each other at the negotiations table. Something very similar occurred last February, when Orange entered into discussions with Bharti Airtel over the same subsidiaries.
Orange, which operates in 29 countries with a client base of over 247 million and employs 155,000 people worldwide, has in recent times, been going through a lot of acquisitions and relinquishment, acquiring Spanish telecoms provider Jazztel in a $34 billion mega-deal while letting go of EE and most of its ownership of Dailymotion, in deals valued at £12.5 billion and €217 million respectively.
The move comes as part of Orange’s drive to expand operation in Africa and the Middle East, where it had about 97.5 million clients in 2014. However, there is a huge proportion of the population, particularly in Africa, that is yet to come to terms with using smartphone and Orange is looking to help them along.
Speaking on the topic, Yves Maitre, Orange’s executive vice president of connected objects and partnerships said,
Although the smartphone revolution is well under way across the African continent, there remains a proportion of the population that so far has been underserved, not just because of the cost of handsets, but because of concerns about data costs,.
When asked about Orange’s commitment to change the scenario, he had this to say,
By scooping up all the costs into one incredibly priced digital offer, we hope that critical access to the mobile internet and all the opportunities that opens up will be within reach of many more people.
Towards this aim, at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona this year, Orange and Mozilla collaborated to put forward a $40 smartphone running the Mozilla OS, aimed specifically at the African continent.
The move may not be all charity and good-will though, but rather a combination of those with an eye to future business opportunities. With the number of mobile consumers in Africa expected to double in the next couple of years, assuming the deal with Bharti Airtel to come through, Orange will be well placed to grab a large share of the newly-emerging market.