Orange’s quarterly sales boosted by Africa and Middle East

FILE PHOTO: Logo of French telecom operator Orange in Nantes
FILE PHOTO: Logo of French telecom operator Orange in Nantes

PARIS (Reuters) – Orange, France’s biggest telecoms operator, said high growth from its Africa and Middle East operations offset declines in revenue in its home market and Spain in the first quarter.

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Chief Executive Christel Heydemann, who succeeded Stephane Richard on April 4, is taking over the former monopoly as it struggles to drive up revenue amid pressure to upgrade networks and to stay competitive in Europe’s fragmented telecoms market.

Spain, Orange’s second-biggest market in Europe after France, will be a top priority as a poor sales and revenue performance there weighed on the group last year.

Orange recorded a 4.6% slide in sales in Spain in the first quarter, as the group has entered exclusive merger talks with MasMovil, its rival in the country.

This contrasts with the 8.7% revenue rise in the first quarter in Africa and Middle East operations, which helped the group generate a 0.7% growth in sales over the period.

Orange’s quarterly core operating profit grew 1% to 2.62 billion euros ($2.81 billion) in line with the average of analyst estimates.

Orange maintained its full-year targets for 2022, including a growth in core operating profits between 2.5% and 3%.

It also confirmed a key target of organic cash flow from telecom activities of at least 3.5 billion euros next year and repeated that Spain would resume yielding a growth in organic free cash flow by the end of the year.

($1 = 0.9325 euros)

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Edmund Blair)