France Telecom continues to look at North Africa as a potential cash cow, despite efforts to enter the Egyptian market were squashed last year. According to Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard, the company is looking specifically to Algeria as it plans to expand further into emerging markets.
It comes as FT continues talks with Cambodia’s Mobitel on a possible deal that is becoming increasingly unlikely, Richard told reporters in Paris on Monday.
Richard took over last March and is aiming to move the country into the African continent, the Middle East and Southeast Asia as stagnant revenue in Europe hurts the company.
According to Richard, the French telecom giant is to spend some $9 billion on emerging-market deals by 2015 as part of an effort to double revenue in the new countries.
France’s largest phone company is monitoring developments in Algeria, where it could seek a presence either through existing operator Djezzy or other means, Richard said.
“Algeria is a potentially interesting market, and we will see what happens with Djezzy,” the Orascom Telecom Holding SAE- owned operator locked in a tax dispute with the North African country’s government, Richard said. No discussions on entering Algeria are under way, the CEO said.
France Telecom shares on Monday rose 0.2 percent to 15.98 euros in Paris.
The Algerian government is planning to buy Djezzy, possibly in cooperation with a foreign partner, and is seeking advice on a valuation. Orascom, controlled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, has said it will seek international arbitration to contest demands to pay more than $800 million in back taxes and restrictions on transferring money abroad from Algeria.
By Jonathan Terry