Telecom operator Orange posts higher sales as France business picks up despite virus

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - Telecoms operator Orange posted higher revenues for the first quarter on Thursday, as business in its French home market improved despite the onset of the coronavirus crisis that dented its equipment sales.

Orange’s revenues rose 2.1% to 10.4 billion euros ($11.29 billion) in the January-March period, rising 1% on a comparable basis, that strips out elements such as currency swings.

Momentum in France, the Middle East and Africa offset a worsening performance in Spain, where the group has been squeezed by competition from low cost rivals.

Store closures across Europe as many countries entered lockdown at the end of March to fight the coronavirus outbreak weighed on equipment sales, while roaming earnings were hit by a drop in travel, though new fibre optic subscriptions kept up at a good pace, Financial Chief Ramon Fernandez told reporters. ($1 = 0.9209 euros) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Himani Sarkar)