Business Week – A slice of Orange.

High profile telecoms company Orange is hoping to raise EUR7.9bn (#5bn) in its initial public offering in the French and UK markets to buy back its shares from Vodafone.

Vodafone was required to sell Orange to France Telecom by regulatory competition laws following its acquisition of German telecoms company Mannesmann last year. As part of the deal, France Telecom will have to pay Vodafone #13.8bn in cash and 11.3 billion orange shares.

The primary listing of shares will be in Euronext Paris, as Orange is a registered company in France, while the secondary listing is on the London Stock Exchange. However, this does not make a difference to the share offering, according to a company spokesperson.

Chartered accountant Graham Howe is the chief financial officer and deputy chief executive officer. In addition to his financial functions at Orange, Howe will be responsible for the development and expansion of the business.

The accountant was one of the founding directors of Orange, and has helped chief executive, Hans Snook, with the development of the strategic direction and growth of the company to date.

Howe, a member of the ICAEW, was responsible for Orange’s #730m flotation that propelled it into the FTSE 100. The previous year, he led the company’s #1.25bn debt financing.

‘Orange has four strategic priorities,’ according to Howe. ‘First, integrating the businesses and delivering the synergies. Secondly, leveraging our brand. Thirdly, expanding our footprint in a financially secure way and finally delivering our vision which is to differentiate Orange strongly from our competitors.’

Other chartered accountants on the team include John Allwood, executive vice president and chief operating officer in the UK. Allwood is in charge of Orange’s UK operations and future expansion. He will also be responsible for the global co-ordination of customer service and distribution. Previously, Allwood was finance director of the Mirror Group.

France Telecom’s chief executive Michel Bon is also on board, serving as non-executive chairman of the group. Bon began his career as an auditor for France’s ministry of finance and spent 10 years in the banking industry.

The long-awaited flotation was delayed once before in October because of falling share prices in the telecoms market. The sector has recovered, rising 7.4% in the last month.

More telecoms information can be found at

An interview with Graham Howe can be found at


Turnover: EUR5m (#3.2m)

Net loss: EUR582,000

Shares issued: 633m

Executive directors:

Michel Bon, chairman, appointed September 1995, Jean-Francois Pontal, CEO, appointed January 2001 Graham Howe, deputy CEO, appointed April 1994

Auditor: PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Company Profile: Orange was launched in 1994 as the fourth entrant to the UK mobile market, The company operates in 19 countries including France and the UK. In September 2000, Orange had 26 million customers.

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