Orange buys Cellcom Liberia for undisclosed price

Orange is buying Liberian mobile operator Cellcom from its owners. The French group will buy the company via its Orange Côte d’Ivoire subsidiary in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

According to Orange, it will buy 100% of the Liberian operations in a deal that does not involve Cellcom’s other mobile interest, in Guinea – to the north of Liberia. Orange already has a business in Guinea and another in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau.

Following the deal, Orange now has a significant cluster of businesses in adjacent countries, with only Sierra Leone not yet served by the group.

Orange has not given a price for the Liberia deal, but calls Cellcom “the leading mobile operator in Liberia, with the strongest market commercial momentum”.

The company added: “Cellcom’s founders and employees will remain involved in the business to ensure a smooth integration, support performance and continue long-standing relations with the government of Liberia.”

Liberia’s economy was devastated by a decade of civil war and mobile penetration at 66% is still below that of other countries in the region. The deal “will enable Orange to strengthen its positions in Africa, which is a strategic priority for the group”.

Current ownership of Cellcom appears opaque. Senior management are associated with LR Group, described by Cellcom as “an affiliate”. Israel-based LR Group says it is owned by Ami Lustig and Roy Ben Yami and that it specialises in financing, managing, developing, producing, and maintaining medium and large scale national projects in high-growth economies all over the world.

Orange said: “With a national mobile licence and its significant market share in the country in number of subscribers, Cellcom has excellent potential for growth over the coming years.”