Orange owner mulls a €2bn sale of assets

Steve Dinneen
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FRANCE Telecom, the owner of half of the Everything Everywhere joint venture in the UK, is preparing an asset sale that could rake in much as €2bn (£1.75bn).

It is considering putting its Swiss, Austrian and Portuguese units on the market in a move that could pave the way for a bumper return to shareholders. The telecoms operator yesterday announced second quarter results that fell slightly behind forecasts but maintained its full-year guidance.

It saw quarterly revenue slip by 1.3 per cent to €11.34bn as competition intensifies in France ahead of the entry of rival Iliad into the mobile market. Ebitda fell by 5.9 per cent to €3.88bn.

Meanwhile, Telefonica posted a decline in first-half profit as a result of economic woes at home in Spain coupled with faltering performances in the UK and other key markets.

Overall, first-half profits fell 16.3 per cent to €3.16bn. Revenues rose 6.3 per cent overall but tumbled 6.1 per cent in Spain.

Some analysts are now questioning whether Telefonica will maintain its current credit rating.

In the UK, its O2 network saw service revenues decline 4.3 per cent in the second quarter, trailing behind Vodafone and the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile.