Outremer Telecom Group, an alternative telecom services provider in the French Overseas Departments, been granted approval by the French telecoms regulator Arcep to build and operate a third-generation mobile network in Mayotte. The group is already in the process of rolling out 3G networks in the French West Indies, French Guiana and Reunion, in order to meet rising demand for advanced voice and data services there. As a result of the latest announcement Outremer Telecom, which has contracted ZTE of China to deploy the new network, hopes to narrow the digital divide in the region by providing improved access to mobile broadband services. Until now Mayotte was the only French department without 3G services.
In a separate story, OMT Invest, the private equity arm of French insurer AXA, has signed an agreement to acquire a 52.26% stake in Outremer for EUR12 (USD17) per share. AXA has purchased the stake from private equity firm Apax Partners – which became a shareholder in Outremer in 2004 – and Outremer’s chief executive and founding chairman Jean-Michel Hegesippe. The company executive will reinvest in the group alongside the new OMT Invest management team, and will retain his operational duties. Reuters reports that a spokesperson from AXA said the company would spend EUR133 million for the purchase, which is subject to approval by France’s competition authority, Autorite de la Concurrence. Outremer provides fixed line, mobile and internet services under the ‘Only’ brand in the French overseas regions of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion and Mayotte.