The largest telecommunications company in France, Orange SA, is planning to issue an initial public offering (IPO) this year. Sources familiar with the undertaking said that the French phone giant had selected Morgan Stanley and BNP Paribus as its advisors for its Africa and Middle East business IPO.
The people further stated that while the IPO process is still at the very early stages, the two investment banks had kickstarted the process, with the underwriting expected to be the first significant milestone. They further added that at a later stage, the Telcom firm would be inviting other banks and fund managers to assist in fast-tracking the listing.
The IPO by Orange would be among the most prominent African and Middle East listings this year. When asked about potential listing destinations, the sources that declined to be named since the process hasn’t been formally announced said that Orange was considering selling the shares either in Paris or London. The listing could take place by mid this year, the people said.
Orange’s listing comes after Barti Airtel Ltd Africa and Helios Towers’ IPOs to seek to raise more capital for expansion while tapping on the regions’ investors. Bloomberg’s compiled data shows that the transaction will add to the already $26.5 billion raised by other Europe-headquartered companies over the past year.
According to sources, details about Orange’s listing are still scanty and the company may even decide to shelve or proceed with it. When contacted by Bloomberg, representatives of the IPO including Morgan Stanley and BNP, declined to comment.
To allow for “various options for growth”, Orange issued a statement saying it had decided to separate its African and Middle East interests. The group said that issuing an IPO is a potential scenario which the company is considering to boost the Telcom’s growth.
Combined, Orange’s Middle East and African businesses reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of about 1.67 billion euros or circa $1.8 billion in 2018. The figure represents about 13% of the group’s adjusted EBITDA, and this is according to a last year presentation by Orange to investors.
During the same period, the regions reported a growth in revenue of about 5.1% to 5.1 billion euros. The Orange group operates in nearly 20 countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Orange Jordan.