France's Orange says it could get $1.15 bln by cutting stake in BT


UPDATE 2-France's Orange says it could get $1.15 bln by cutting stake in BT

(Recasts and updates story with new elements)
    PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - French telecoms company Orange
<ORAN.PA> could get 900 million pounds ($1.15 billion) by
reducing its stake in British rival BT Group <BT.L> from 4
percent to as little as 1.33 percent, it said on Monday.
    Shares in BT, Britain's biggest telecoms operator, have
underperformed those of its European peers of late, falling by
about 21 percent since the start of the year after an accounting
scandal in Italy forced the group to cut forecasts for the next
two years. [nL5N1FG37C]
    Orange said in a statement late on Monday that it lowered
its BT stake to 2.66 percent by selling about 133 million shares
via a private placement, out of which 69 million were acquired
by BT and its Employee Share Ownership Trust.
    The proceedings for this sale amounted to 383 million pounds
($488 million), reflecting a price of 288 pence per share, or a
discount of 0.59 percent on the closing price on Monday, Orange
    In addition, Orange said it planned to launch an offering of
four-year bonds exchangeable for BT shares on another third of
its 4 percent stake in the British group for a total of 517
million pounds($658 million).
    The bonds will be issued on June 27 at an initial exercise
price of 389 pence, reflecting a premium of 35 percent on the
price of the private placement.
    If the bonds are fully exercised, Orange's stake in BT would
then decrease to 1.33 percent.
    BNP Paribas <BNPP.PA> and JPMorgan <JPM.N> acted as joint
bookrunners on the transaction.
($1 = 0.7852 pounds)

 (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by David Goodman and
James Dalgleish)
 ((; +33 1 4949 5182; Reuters


This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Economy
Referenced Symbols: BNPP , BT , JPM , ORAN

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