Orange Fails in Full Belgium Takeover Bid

Operator Orange has failed in its attempt at a complete buyout of minority shareholders of its Belgian subsidiary. The company secures less than 51 percent of shares targeted from its final offer.

When announcing the move last year, Orange said it wants to increase its stake in Orange Belgium and intended to delist it from the local stock market should it meet the conditions required for it to do so. To delist shares it could have performed a squeeze-out bid to forcibly acquire remaining interests had it raised its stake above 95.3 percent. However, this level looked impossible when minority investor Polygon publicly stated its opposition to the price being offered and refused to sell its 5.29 percent.

At the close of its extended offer period on 4 May Orange achieved support from investors owning 50.97 percent of shares targeted. Once acquired, these will take its total stake, including the proportion it already owned, to 76.97 percent. When the initial offer expired in late April, Orange had secured just over 46 percent of the shares targeted, taking its share to almost 75 percent. It reopened the offer on the same terms, having already dismissed calls to increase the price.

Despite falling short of the sum needed to delist the business, deputy CEO for Finance, Performance and Development of Orange Group Ramon Fernandez focused on the positives. “We have achieved the objective we set for ourselves: offering a fair price to shareholders who wanted to monetise their shares and strengthening our stake in Orange Belgium,” he said. “With nearly 77 percent 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.”

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