Orange Côte d’Ivoire to go public soon

By Baudelaire Mieu
Posted on Wednesday, 10 August 2022 12:53

Côte d'Ivoire is one of the main African markets for the French group Orange. © AFP

After giving the green light to sell nearly 10% of its stake in Orange CI, the Ivorian government is giving a boost to Orange’s IPO project.

The operation should be able to take place within a few weeks. On 4 August, Alassane Ouattara signed a decree authorising the sale on the stock market of 9.95% of the Ivorian state’s shares in the telecoms operator – the equivalent of 14.95 million shares which will be sold at 9,500 CFA francs (€14.5) each.

80% of these shares will be reserved for natural and legal persons of Ivorian nationality, with a view to facilitating investment in the stock market. This operation has been on hold since 2017 and Orange’s merger with Côte d’Ivoire Telecom.

20% of the capital concerned in total

More optimistic than at the time of the operation’s launch, the Ivorian government hopes to reap more than 140bn CFA francs (more than €210m) in budgetary resources via the IPO (initial public offering) of Orange Côte d’Ivoire (CI). Three years ago, the state was counting on CFAF 100bn. Orange’s sustained growth has boosted its value, which is estimated by the government to be more than CFAF 1,500bn.

Ultimately, Côte d’Ivoire will retain about 5.05% of the company’s shares. However, in order to comply with the regulations in force on the financial market of the Regional Securities Exchange (BRVM), according to which any company preparing an IPO must sell at least 20% of its capital, some of the shareholders will complete the operation. Thus, the Orange group, which holds 74% of Orange CI’s capital, and the Billon family’s Sifca group, will have to release 10.05% of their shares for the takeover bid.

Attracting new investors

Within this operation’s framework, the merchant banks EDC, a subsidiary of the pan-African banking group Ecobank, and BNI Finance of the state-owned Banque Nationale d’Investissement (BNI) have been mandated to arrange this transaction, which will be one of the largest ever carried out by BRVM.

It is estimated that Orange’s arrival would increase the market capitalisation of the shares from €10bn to €12.2bn. “This transaction is good news for the stock market. It will revitalise the market by attracting new national, regional and even international investors,” said Edoh Kossi Amenounvé, director-general of the BRVM.

Initially scheduled for July, Orange CI’s listing is now envisaged for September, the time needed to meet regulatory obligations. Orange Côte d’Ivoire is one of the French telecommunications group’s bridgeheads on the continent, after Egypt and Senegal, with sustained annual growth. In 2021, its turnover amounted to €960m, up 6.5% from the previous year.

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