Barcelona:Mobile group Orange could take larger rival Vodafone Group’s lead and consider acquisitions in the Indian mobile market, but for now it remains keen to expand in Africa, its chief executive said.
“India is a fast-growing market and if a right opportunity emerges at the right kind of valuation, we would look at it. I wouldn’t rule anything out,” said Sanjiv Ahuja who, like his counterpart at Vodafone , is also India-born.
This will be Orange’s second entry into India. The brand was part-owned by HTIL that sold it to France Telecom in 2001. However, several Hutch operations, including the one in Mumbai, continued using the Orange brand till 2005.
France TelecomOrange said it was unlikely to take up minority stakes in emerging market operators, especially if it could not deploy its own brand. “Our interest in emerging markets is that we have traditionally taken a controlling stake in an operator. That’s what we generally like to... Not having the Orange brand is not something that we look forward to,” Ahuja said.
“Africa is where we look at significant growth in terms of subscribers. We have been very very successful and continue to plan to expand in those markets,” he added.
Ahuja said Orange, one of the few major European operators to have a presence in Africa, was seeing “solid double-digit revenue and double-digit subscriber growth” at its African operations and forecast that continuing for some years.
Orange had 97 million customers in 24 countries at the end of December. Its biggest operations are in France and Britain.
The group has long been to keen on having a presence in the United States, but has been put off by prohibitive valuations.
Ahuja said data-based services such as mobile music, video, mobile blogging and user generated content were gaining traction in Europe. “That’s where I see Europe evolving to as a mature market ... Is any one of these by itself significant enough, it’s not clear. But if you put them all together, its absolutely clear that these next generation services are playing a significant role in the future of this industry,” he said. REUTERS