BAe raises pounds 764m in sale of Orange shares

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The Independent Online
BRITISH Aerospace yesterday raised pounds 764m by selling the bulk of its holding in Orange, the mobile phone operator, in an institutional placing.

The deal will net BAe a profit of about pounds 700m on its original investment and leave it with a 5 per cent shareholding worth a further pounds 235m.

BAe sold 193m shares - 16.11 per cent of Orange - to SBC Warburg at 395.75p a share. The shares were in turn offered at 399p.

The company had been widely expected to sell down its Orange holding and was persuaded to go ahead after assurances from SBC Warburg that the placing would not damage Orange. Its share price ended the day 26p lower at 392p.

BAe originally held a 31.5 per cent stake in Orange alongside Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong. Its investment in Orange peaked at pounds 320m but the bulk of this was recouped in 1996 when Orange floated at 205p a share and BAe sold down just under 10 per cent of its shareholding raising pounds 245m.

BAe said it would realise an exceptional profit before tax of pounds 368m on yesterday's sale since the shares were held in its books at the flotation price.

Graham Howe, Orange finance director , said the sale would increase the liquidity of Orange shares substantially.