Orange, Africa’s second largest mobile carrier said it looking talking to Bharti Airtel in its quest to acquire more mobile carriers across Africa.
Orange’s African commercial director, Yannick Decaux told Bloomberg that Orange is looking at doing more acquisition deals. The carrier already has deals finished across Bostwana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Orange also agreed to buy Millicom’s Democratic Republic of Congo operations for USD160 million last year.
The easiest target for Orange is Bharti Airtel B.V., owners of Bharti Airtel Nigeria Holding II B.V., (Airtel Nigeria). The network has been relegated from the second largest carrier to the third position by Globacom, a local carrier that came in three years after Airtel and MTN Group.
Yannick Decaux said Orange will look into speaking to Bharti Airtel “on a case by case basis”. The company is getting weighed down by debt and will not mind selling off some units to ease its balance sheet.
The shaky economic climate in Nigeria makes the unit a tempting one to do away with. In its 2016 Q3 result, Bharti told its shareholders that ““Consolidated revenue growth muted by 3.3% on account of full quarter impact of Nigeria currency devaluation”. It is not clear if the company is seeing any respite to its challenges in Nigeria.
Back in Europe, Orange is facing a competitive environment where growth is virtually static and predictable. regulators have also pressured operators to cut roaming charges.
Orange has not giving any hint where it is looking to do any deal. Nigeria will always be on its agenda but the company will be taking a lot of caution before considering Africa’s largest mobile market