Orange slices off half of a fiber unit to create Orange Concessions for rural rollouts

France's Orange is splitting out and selling half of its interest in a new fiber-optics venture valued at $3.3 billion to goose the rollout of faster speeds across rural areas.

Following a competitive process, Orange said Caisse des Dépôts, CNP Assurances and EDF Invest are buying a 50% stake in the new fiber venture, which is called Orange Concessions. The deal is slated to close by the end of the year. Orange will hold a call option that would allow it to regain control and considerate Orange Concessions in the future.

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Orange said the transaction and creation of Orange Concessions would allow it to support its ambitions in public initiative networks while sharing the investment load. Orange said Orange Concessions will be the leading fiber network operator in rural France with more than 4.5 million fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) plug-ins planned or built.

The new entity also allows Orange to leverage its infrastructure and professional experience for deploying fiber. The networks operated by Orange Concessions will be open to all operators, including, it would seem, Orange's rivals. Orange will continue to deploy the fiber and provide the maintenance for it.