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France Telecom eyes up Mid East and Africa expansion

Recently appointed CEO Stephane Richard says the group may invest as much as US$9.3 billion over the next five years in the region

France Telecom has a 51% stake in Jordan Telecom Group, which in 2007 adopted the Orange brand.
France Telecom has a 51% stake in Jordan Telecom Group, which in 2007 adopted the Orange brand.

Telecom giant France Telecom is sizing up acquisitions and new licences in the Middle East and Africa as it sets about doubling the amount of revenue it generates in emerging markets.

In an interview with Bloomberg, recently appointed CEO Stephane Richard said the group may invest as much as US$9.3 billion over the next five years in the region.

"If we can buy a portfolio of assets to arrive more rapidly, that's very good. If it's necessary to buy licenses country by country, that works also," he told the newswire.

Bharti Airtel last month agreed to buy most of Zain's African assets, and Richard says that France Telecom would consider any operations Bharti decides to sell on.

"It's certain we'll look at it. The ink on the deal is barely dry, so it's not the moment for discussions," he said.

As well as a presence in 14 countries in Africa, France Telecom has a 51% stake in Jordan Telecom Group (JTG), which in 2007 adopted the Orange brand for its fixed, mobile, internet and content services in Jordan.

JTG is also present in Bahrain with a 51% stake in fixed line provider Lightspeed communications.