Orange Weighs Sale of 1 Billion-Euro Polish Fiber Stake
(Bloomberg) -- Orange SA is considering a sale of as much as 50% of its fiber-optic network in Poland, according to people familiar with the matter, potentially adding to a spate of deals in the country’s telecommunication sector this year.
The French company is working with advisers at Lazard Ltd. on the possible sale of an interest in the network, controlled by Warsaw-listed Orange Polska SA, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. The stake could fetch around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), the people said.
Orange said last year it would seek to extract greater value from its telecom infrastructure by selling interests in mobile-phone towers and fiber networks. Jean-Francois Fallacher, chief executive officer of Orange in Poland, said in February that it wanted to remain a controlling shareholder in any venture with new financial partners.
The carrier is exploring its options at a time when there’s healthy demand for communications infrastructure assets among investment funds seeking reliable long-term returns. Orange’s shares have fallen 18% over the last 12 months, giving the company a market value of around 29 billion euros.
Discussions over the Orange Polska fiber asset are ongoing and there is no certainty they will result in a sale, the people said.
A spokesman for Orange Polska confirmed the group was seeking a partner for further investments in its fiber networks and that an adviser had been picked to help it find the right one. A representative for Orange declined to comment. A representative for Lazard had no immediate comment.
Shares in Orange Polska were up 7.9% at 15:54 in Warsaw on Thursday, giving it a market value of more than $2.3 billion.
A fiber stake sale of more than 1 billion euros in Poland would add to what has already been a banner year for dealmaking in eastern Europe, which has defied the broader slump in mergers and acquisitions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The value of deals targeting companies in eastern Europe is up 40% this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, making it the only major region in the world to show an increase.
Upcoming carveouts in Poland’s telecom sector could add to the region’s haul for 2020. Cyfrowy Polsat SA is working with advisers to gauge interest in more than 8,000 mobile sites managed by its Polkomtel unit, Bloomberg News reported this month. Play Communications SA is also working with advisers on a strategic review of its wireless tower assets, potentially valued at as much as 800 million euros, people with knowledge of the matter said in June.
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