France Telecom seeks to conquer emerging markets

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

France Telecom, the owner of mobile network operator Orange, launched a strategy to "conquer" the Middle East and Africa on Monday, aiming to double sales in emerging markets.

It also announced plans for a recruitment drive and an overhaul of working life after a crisis last year sparked by several suicides, in what it called a "new social contract" for its employees in France.

"There is gigantic potential for growth in value in these countries" in the Middle East and Africa, chief executive Stephane Richard told a news conference as he presented the company's five-year strategy.

"If we manage, about five percent of humanity will be an Orange customer in 2015," he added.

The company said it aims to boost its customer base from 192 million to 300 million across all its markets by 2015 and to recruit 10,000 new employees by 2012. It currently employs 181,000, of which 100,000 are in France.

The formerly state-owned company best known for the mobile brand Orange said it aims to expand in these regions by acquiring network licences and stakes in existing operators.

"Sales are expected to double over the next five years in emerging markets" and reach seven billion euros (8.8 billion dollars) in three to five years.

The recruitment drive aims in part "to address the challenge posed by the rising average age of employees in France," the company said in a statement.

Concerns over the suicides made headlines which sparked a debate about stress in the French workplace. The crisis raised pressure on former boss Didier Lombard who made way for Richard this year.

"The group is committed to offering its employees a beneficial working environment thanks to a new vision of human resources, a new management style and shared values," it said.

"The conquest of networks means increasing coverage and bandwidth for both fixed and mobile networks, in both mature and emerging countries."

It plans to deploy a new fibre-optic telecom network in France, and in Africa launch a programme of solar-powered mobile telephone masts as well as systems for payments and money transfers via mobile phone.

In 2009, France Telecom reported turnover of 45.9 billion euros (57.5 billion dollars).

Dow Jones Newswires quoted Richard as saying on Monday that the company had performed in line with forecasts in the first half of 2010 and was showing resilience despite weak growth in the economy.

© 2010 AFP

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