BANGALORE/PARIS (Reuters) - French state-owned fund Bpifrance said on Tuesday it was trimming its stake in telecom group Orange (ORAN.PA) by 1.9 percent of the total capital to finance new investments.
The fund said it was selling the 50 million shares through an accelerated private placement to institutional investors, reducing its holding to 11.6 percent.
The shares will be priced between 11.60 euros and 11.90 euros each, a source familiar with the matter said. The stock closed up 2.8 percent at 11.905 euros in Paris on Tuesday, for a market value of 31.5 billion euros ($39.79 billion).
Orange has seen its stock rise more than 30 percent since the start of the year as investors bet on its recovery from a French price war touched off in 2012, as well as possible consolidation in the telecoms industry.
The former monopoly raised its cost-cutting target and confirmed its full-year core profit goal at the end of July, and earlier this month offered to buy Spanish telecoms operator Jazztel JAZ.MC for around 3.4 billion euros.
Bpifrance said it would remain “a significant shareholder of Orange” and had committed not to reduce its stake further in the next six months.
Bpifrance and the French State will jointly hold over 25 percent of the share capital of Orange after the transaction, remaining the largest shareholder, the fund said, adding that there would be no change to representation on Orange’s board.
“This transaction is part of an active management policy of Bpifrance’s portfolio,” the fund said in a statement. “The proceeds of the disposal will therefore be used to finance new investments, pursuing the mission entrusted to Bpifrance for the financing of French companies.”
Goldman Sachs International is acting as sole global coordinator and joint bookrunner, and BNP Paribas is acting as joint bookrunner, Bpifrance said.
Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore and James Regan in Paris; Editing by Ted Kerr and William Hardy