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Orange fails in bid to secure delisting majority in Belgian operation

Orange has failed to secure sufficient additional shares in its Belgian subsidiary that would enable it to delist the company.

Orange’s €22 a share offer helped secure it an additional 23.94% of Orange Belgium’s share capital, which was the equivalent of just over half of the total number of shares targeted by the offer.

However, Orange failed to convince Orange investors in sufficient numbers to meet the 95% threshold that would have enabled it to delist Orange Belgium.

Attempting to put a positive spin on the offer, Ramon Fernandez, Deputy CEO in charge of Finance, Performance and Development of the Orange Group said: “We have achieved the objective we set for ourselves: offering a fair price to shareholders who wanted to monetize their shares and strengthening our stake in Orange Belgium.With nearly 77% of the capital held by the Group, we now have the means to improve the financial flexibility of Orange Belgium, deploy its long-term value creation strategy more effectively and enable it to better react to major transformations of the Belgian market.”

Orange failed to convince minority investors including UK-based investor Polygon, owner  of a 5.29% stake, which judged the bid derisory and launched a rigorous campaign to derail it.

Orange Belgium offers a full range of multiplay services including TV and has been seen as a possible consolidator in the Belgian market. The company has in particular been a rival to Liberty Global-owned Telenet as a potential acquirer of Wallonia-region cable operator Voo.