France Telecom to buy into Democratic Republic of Congo?

France Telecom is reportedly close to signing an agreement for the acquisition of DRC operator Congo Chine Telecom. As the number four market player in the Democratic Republic of Congo, CCT has around 1.37 million subscribers based on second quarter results. Taking CCT’s debts into account, the deal values the African operator at US$218 million.

The deal is likely to be announced imminently. Ownership of CCT is currently split between the DRC’s government and the manufacturer ZTE, with the Chinese firm holding the majority stake of 51%. The Congolese government is reportedly looking to rid itself of certain assets, and in view of this is attempting to convert state organisations into listed firms.

If the deal closes, France Telecom will face competition from market leader Airtel (owned by Bharti Airtel), Vodacom and Tigo – respectively these operators have 5 million, 4.25 million and 2.32 million connections.

France Telecom has recently made clear that it intends to increase its presence in emerging markets – it already has operations in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon - and the firm has expressed interest in buying into Africa and the Middle East, having already acquired stakes in Iraq’s Korek Telecom and Morocco’s Meditel.

The operator is specifically targeting underdeveloped countries due to their substantial growth potential; it is aiming to double its revenue from emerging markets by 2015 in order to compensate for stalling growth in its home market.

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