Orange has agreed to sell part of its fixed fibre (FTTH) business in France to a consortium of three investors for about 1.3 billion euros or $1.58 billion.
It is the first time that the Paris-based company, which is also carving out its mobile towers in most European countries to shore up the group’s value, has announced a sale of part of its prized broadband network in France.
The move comes as the telecoms industry must invest to keep on deploying upgraded broadband networks in Europe as well as a costly new mobile Internet technology, or 5G.
Orange said in a statement that it agreed to sell 50 percent of Orange Concessions, a vehicle that will include some of its French fibre assets, to La Banque des Territoires, part of France’s state-owned bank Caisse des Depots, insurer CNP Assurances and EDF Invest consortium.
The deal values Orange Concessions at 2.675 billion euros, the company said. The entity covers about 4.5 million fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) plugs in rural France.
Orange said it will update markets about its plans for its European mobile assets when it reports full-year results on Feb. 18.
The group is following similar moves by other European firms that are looking to sell mobile networks as infrastructure valuations surge on interest from investors such as U.S. private equity firm KKR and Spain’s Cellnex.
Orange Concessions has 23 public initiative networks (PIN) representing over 4.5 million built or to-be-built plugs. Orange Concessions will be France’s leading fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) operator of networks
“Through this partnership, Orange holds the means to pursue the development of fibre in rural areas, by winning new public initiative networks or by participating in market consolidation. This is a key milestone in the delivery of our Engage 2025 strategic plan,” Stephane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, said.