Sci & Tech

Orange SA Mulls Buying Stake in Iranian Firm

Orange SA Mulls Buying Stake in Iranian FirmOrange SA Mulls Buying Stake in Iranian Firm

Multinational mobile phone operator Orange SA, based in France, has reportedly been in negotiations with an Iranian mobile telecom company to buy a percentage of the company, according to a new report.

Iran's Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi has facilitated discussions between the French operator and an unnamed mobile telecom company based in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported.

For Orange's part, the minister said the company now works in 28 countries and has expressed its willingness to collaborate with Iranian operators by upgrading local technology.

The report noted that when President Hassan Rouhani visits the French capital later this year on a state visit, the president and the telecoms minister will discuss the deal further.

Previous statements from industry insiders suggest the company could be Taliya, which has lost to competitors in recent years.

The French company is also looking at a mobile virtual network operator to increase any possible market share.

Vaezi also discussed a possible joint deal between both countries in launching a new generation of national satellites as well as a remote sensing satellite. For this to go further, he added that members from the two countries' respective aviation and space agencies will meet along with Airbus and Thales.

The announcement by Vaezi comes as a delegation of France's main business lobby group, MEDEF, comprising about 130 firms, including top companies such as Total and Peugeot, arrived in Tehran on Monday for signing trade deals, according to CNBC.

The delegation is also accompanied by the French trade and agriculture ministers, making it the first visit to Iran by a foreign trade minister or a minister responsible for a French economic sector for 12 years.

  Increasing Iran-Related Offers

The news of Orange SA's interest in the Iranian telecoms market comes after the company's Armenian subsidiary began offering discount calls to landline phones in Iran.  In a report by the telecoms paper last march, Orange announced:  

"Mobile operator Orange Armenia is running a special offer on calls to Iran, charging AMD70 per minute rate instead of the regular rate of AMD90 per minute. SMS to Iran will cost AMD20. The promotion will be valid until 06 April. The promotional rates will not apply when using roaming services."

The MEDEF delegation is also promoting France's new permanent trade office in the Iranian capital for promoting deals between Tehran and Paris.


  Ending Deals With Zionists

The announcement of Orange's interest follows the company's decision to pull entirely out of Israel's telecom market in April citing their war crimes against the Palestinians and illegal settlement activities in the West Bank.

Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, said in April he would end the company's ties with Israel "tomorrow" if it were possible, but has not yet made the decision due to the "huge risk" of penalties involved for leaving the market suddenly.

The French chief made the statement at a news conference in Egyptian capital Cairo, where he described the company's plans in the Egypt for the years ahead.

Richard said the Orange brand was looking to withdraw from Israel as quickly as possible, but that doing so would take time.

In June, the New York Times reported that Orange reached a deal allowing for a parting of ways with an Israeli mobile service provider.

Under a previous agreement, the Israeli provider, Partner Communications, was licensed to use the Orange brand until 2025. But the two companies announced at the time that they had signed a new agreement that gives each the right to terminate the brand license agreement in the next two years.

Several human rights groups in France have been calling on the French government, which owns a quarter stake in the telecom company, to cut ties with the Israeli regime over Partner Communications' business activity in the West Bank settlement, which is illegal by international law.

The move over the summer by the French operator is a shrewd one in the long run, as it allows them unhindered access to the large Middle Eastern market, including Iran.

Prior to the severance of ties with the Israeli telecom company, Orange SA would be barred from doing business with any Iranian entity under Iranian law.