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France Telecom targets Africa

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france_telecom.gifFrance Telecom announced today that it’s now focusing on Africa aiming small deals with high-growth, targeting acquisitions in English speaking countries on the continent.

Reuters reported that the company’s new strategy to target emerging markets comes after its failed bid to buy Nordic group TeliaSonera.

France Telecom’s Chief executive, Didier Lombard told the Financial Times this strategy could see an increase in payouts to shareholders.

He also predicted it would be largely unaffected by the economic slowdown, the newspaper said.
Free cash flow generated in 2008 would probably be “a little bit better” than the 7.8 billion euros ($10.9 billion) the company had forecast, Lombard told the paper.

He also said France Telecom could raise the ratio of free cash flow it returns to investors above its target of 45 per cent, but said no decision would be taken by the board until next year.
France Telecom last week paid out an interim dividend for the first time in its history and Lombard said: “It’s a kind of friendly attitude towards our investors and I am sure that the board will want to continue in the same way.

“Now we are looking at all the African territories and probably we will discover that we continue in the same direction.”

He also ruled out acquiring a large pan-African mobile operator such as MTN or Orascom Telecom of Egypt, “because the value is already in the price”.

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