State-owned investment bank Bpifrance Group has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Bpifrance Participations (formerly Fonds Strategique d’Investissement) has sold a 1.9% stake (around 50 million shares) in the country’s former monopoly telco Orange Group (previously France Telecom) in a private placement worth EUR584 million (USD736 million). Goldman Sachs acted as the global coordinator and book runner for the private placement, while BNP Paribas also assumed the role of book runner. Following the disposal, Bpifrance Participations will own 11.6% of Orange Group’s share capital and voting rights; the deal will have no effect on the shareholding agreement between l’Agence des Participations de l’Etat (APE) and Bpifrance Participations, the bank said. The government will remain in charge of more than 25% of Orange.
According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, at end-2013 the French state owned 26.94% of Orange Group’s share capital and 27.18% of the voting rights, split roughly evenly between direct government ownership and a joint stake with public investment group Bpifrance Participations. The remainder (72.82% of voting shares) was in free float on the Euronext Paris market and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with no other shareholder owning a 5%-plus stake.