French incumbent Orange has spent €75m (US$85.3m) for an equity interest in Nigeria-based Africa Internet Group. The investment means that the operator joins AXA, Goldman Sachs, MTN Group, Millicom and Rocket Internet as an investor in Africa Internet Group.
French incumbent Orange (EPA:ORA) has spent €75m (US$85.3m) for an equity interest in Nigeria-based Africa Internet Group.
The investment, which comes just a few days after Orange and Bouygues Telecom ended their merger talks, means that the operator joins AXA (EPA:AXA), Goldman Sachs, MTN Group (JSE:MTN), Millicom (STO:MIC) and Rocket Internet (ETR:RKET) as an investor in Africa Internet Group.
The French company has not disclosed the size of its stake in the group but, in early February, French insurer Axa said it would buy an 8% stake for €75m, valuing Africa Internet Group at €937.5m (US$1.06bn).
As a result, Africa Internet Group was expected to become the continent’s first technology company to reach “unicorn” status.
Africa Internet Group claims to have 10 online consumer businesses operating in 23 African countries, enabling more than 50,000 local and international companies to do business with African consumers.
Orange said in a statement it will help Jumia and other websites run by the internet company to accelerate their growth and seize development opportunities on the continent. Jumia allows businesses to market their products and services online to Africa’s emerging middle class.
Commenting on the investment, Orange CEO Stephane Richard said: “This operation, initiated by our corporate investment fund Orange Digital Ventures, is fully aligned with our strategic plan, Essentials2020, particularly with regards to our ambition to reinvent customer service, develop the digital channels and services offered to customers as well as our ambition to develop our activities in Africa and the Middle East.”
The French operator, which is already present in 12 African countries and claims that nearly one in 10 inhabitants is an Orange customer, said the deal underscores its commitment to Africa.
Last weekend, Orange and conglomerate Bouygues (EPA:BOUY), owner of Bouygues Telecom, ended their negotiations on merger options, saying they were unable to agree on four major points, including Bouygues Telecom’s valuation and the size of its stake in the combined entity.
The talks reportedly centered around a €10bn (US$10.8bn) deal involving €2bn (US$2.2bn) in cash and a 15% stake in Orange. However, the French state, which currently has a 23% stake in Orange, was keen to remain the operator’s largest shareholder.
Richard was quoted saying early this week that his company would continue to seek opportunities to consolidate, enter new markets in Europe as well as expand in Africa and the Middle East.