French telecom operator Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard speaks during the company's 2014 annual results presentation in Paris. (Reuters)
Egypt’s second largest mobile operator Mobinil has officially adopted the brand of French multinational Orange, one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, the company announced on Tuesday at a Cairo press conference.
Formerly France Telecom, Orange intends to invest around EGP 2.5 billion ($319 million) this year to upgrade networks and deliver better services, quality and more benefits for some 33 million customers in its single-largest national market, according to Orange’s chairman and CEO Stephane Richard.
To finance the planned investments, the Paris-based company plans a capital increase as early as "in a few months’ time" to offer roughly 20 percent of Orange Egypt shares to shareholders in an IPO, though the exact timing will depend on market conditions, Richard said.
The re-branding comes a year after Orange completed its 99 percent buy-out of the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil), which was founded in 1998 by Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, in a deal worth some 210 million euros.
The company plans to invest heavily in mobile broadband, said Richards, and intends to bid for the 4G license, given that it is offered “within a viable framework.”
Almost 86 percent of Egypt’s internet users are broadband subscribers, according to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology website.
“Of course we hope that the financial and technical conditions of the licence and the spectrum will take into account the economic reality of the industry and the big investment that is needed after the spectrum,” he explained.
Orange Egypt is the second largest mobile operator in Egypt after Vodafone Egypt, with a 33 percent market share.
It posted an EGP 10.4 million consolidated net profit in 2015, compared to a loss of EGP 399.7 million in the previous year.
However, its subsidiary internet service provider, Link DSL, has a market share of below 20 percent, according to Link CEO Waseem Arsany, after losing many customers to majority state-owned Telecom Egypt, which it accuses of exploiting infrastructure works to poach customers.
Link, which like other ISPs relies on TE infrastructure to provide its services, has lost some 80,000 customers and suffered LE110 million as of the end of February 2016 to TE since it began switching from copper to fibre-optic cables nationwide in 2014, allegedly leaving subscribers of other ISPs with no internet access unless they joined its ISP TE Data, Arsany told Ahram Online at the conference.
The company also announced the opening of its first “Smart Store” in Egypt and the seventh worldwide.
Orange Group, which boasts a worldwide customer base of 263 million, registered some 40 billion euros in sales revenues in 2015.
(Official exchange rate is currently $1= EGP 7.73)