Orange’s Mobinil Unit in Talks to Sell Wireless Towers in Egypt

May 15, 2014 8:32 am ET

May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Orange SA, the French phone company which has diversified into Africa and the Middle East, said its Egyptian mobile carrier Mobinil is “well advanced” in a process to sell some of its wireless towers.

Talks about divesting network infrastructure sites are heading into the final stage, Sebastien Audra, a spokesman for the Paris-based company, said in a telephone interview. Orange declined to name potential buyers or say how many towers are being sold.

Carriers including Orange have been looking to either sell or share more towers in Africa to reduce their exposure to costly infrastructure. Orange sought to dispose of towers in sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt, Bloomberg News reported in March, citing people familiar with the matter.

Orange, France’s largest phone company and a former phone monopoly which generates about half of its sales in its home market, has sought revenue abroad to make up for falling phone bills amid French mobile price wars. Political instability has weighed on some of its ventures into emerging markets.

In Egypt, Orange’s revenue fell 12.5 percent to 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) last year. In February 2013, a year after Orange struck a $2 billion deal to raise its stake in Mobinil, the company reported a 400 million-euro impairment cost on increased risk there.

Orange shares rose 1.2 percent to 12.42 euros at 2:14 p.m. in Paris, giving the company formerly known as France Telecom a market value of 32.9 billion euros.