The enormity of the task facing Orange at launch is difficult to appreciate today, given the current popularity of mobile phones. Back in 1994, the UK mobile phone market was a confusing place for customers. Digital networks had just been introduced, but few people understood the benefits. Complex tariffs and high prices made cellular phones only attractive to business customers: users had to sign-up to a three-year contract, with high monthly rental fees, high call tariffs and with little flexibility over the type of services on offer.
In April 1994, Orange entered the UK market as the last entrant in a field of four, with an ambitious aim: to become the first choice in wirefree(tm) communications. To achieve this, Orange began building a strong, fresh, clear identity that set it apart from the clutter that characterised a market littered with high-tech jargon and complicated pricing (see also next section ‘Orange story’). It was the start of a revolution.
Orange innovations like simple Talk Plans that offered real value for money, per second billing, Caller ID, itemised billing free of charge, and direct customer relationships changed people’s attitudes about mobile communications. By the end of 1995 the Orange customer base had more than doubled to 785,000, compared to 379,000 at the end of 1994. In 1996, Orange plc underwent its first initial public offering with the shares being listed on the London and Nasdaq markets on 2 April 1996.
At flotation in London, Orange plc shares were priced at 205 pence. Major shareholders at the time were Hutchison Whampoa with 48%, and British Aerospace with 22%. With a valuation of i?? 2. 4 billion, Orange plc became the youngest company to enter the FTSE-100. In July 1997 the company reached its first milestone of 1 million customers. Orange plc was named the best performing share in 1998, based on companies listed on the FTSE-100 throughout the year.
In June 1999 Orange won the Nat West/Sunday Times Business Enterprise Award, which described Orange as “one of the outstanding business success stories of the past few years” and the Orange story as one of “courageous vision and commitment to the long-running potential of mobile telecom”. Orange began to expand internationally, with interests in Austria, Belgium and Switzerland – the first steps towards fulfilling a global ambition. By the end of 1999, Orange had also licensed its brand to operators in Hong Kong, Australia, Israel and India.
In October 1999, Mannesmann AG (the majority shareholder and the leading mobile operator in Germany) announced the acquisition of Orange plc for 0. 0965 Mannesmann shares and i?? 6. 40 cash per Orange plc share. This valued the fully diluted share capital of Orange plc at i?? 19. 8 billion. The offer was completed in February 2000 and Orange was delisted from the London and Nasdaq stock exchanges. During this time, Vodafone, a deal approved by the European Commission subject to an undertaking from Vodafone to divest Orange plc, bought Mannesmann itself.
In August 2000, France Ti?? li?? com acquired Orange plc from Vodafone for a total consideration of i?? 25. 1 billion. Orange plc’s wirefree(tm) interests were merged with the majority of those of France Ti?? li?? com to form the new Orange SA group. On 13 February 2001, Orange SA was floated on the EuroNext Paris (formerly Paris Bourse) with a secondary listing in London; the share price was i?? 10 per share in France, i?? 6. 40 per share in London. Despite the changes in ownership, Orange continued to concentrate on providing the best service to its customers.
In May 2001, for the fourth consecutive year, Orange UK was ranked no. 1 in J. D. Power and Associates UK Mobile Customer Satisfaction Study. In May 2001, Orange SA was admitted to the CAC40, France’s top 40 companies ranked by market capitalisation. Orange SA is one of the world’s leading communications companies, well positioned for the future. To date, Orange group companies have been awarded next generation (UMTS) licences in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia and Luxembourg
Orange SA Board of Directors The Board of Directors establishes guidelines for the Company’s business and monitors the management’s compliance with its policies. Subject to the powers expressly attributed to the shareholders meetings and within the limits of its corporate purpose, the Board of Directors decides all matters concerning the satisfactory operation and business of the Company. The directors are appointed or re-elected by the shareholders at ordinary general meetings. Pursuant to the Company’s by laws, each director is elected for a period of three years.
Directors may be re-elected without limitation. The Board of Directors is currently made up of nine members. Orange SA Executive Team The Orange Executive Team comprises the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer plus seven Executive Vice Presidents who represent geographic operating units (UK, France, International) and functional areas of the business (strategic marketing, corporate strategy, people ; communications, and global brand, marketing ; products).
The Executive Team is charged with the day-to-day management of all aspects of the Orange group, from developing Orange’s vision and strategic plan to managing the competitive and operational position of the group as a whole. It typically meets twice per month, often in London or Paris. Benefits of being a PLC. A public limited company can offer its shares for sale on the stock market in order to raise finance. When the business offers its shares for sale to the public it will employ a merchant bank to manage the operation, which is known as flotation.
The cost of flotation can be high, sometimes running into millions of pounds for the largest issues. Constraints of being a PLC The company can’t offer their shares for sale to the public at large and so their ability to raise money may be limited. They must publish an annual report and balance sheet. Ensure that its shares are freely transferable. And have a memorandum of association with a separate clause stating that it is a PLC.