Orange, the mobile phone business controlled by France Telecom, was putting the finishing touches yesterday to a new strategy presentation that will see the group promise to aggressively grow its sales to business customers.
The two-year plan to be set out tomorrow is the work of Solomon Trujillo, the new chief executive, who took charge in March. It seems likely that he will take the opportunity to tell shareholders the company will soon be ready to pay a dividend after years of investment, culminating in the multibillion pound splurge on 3G licences and equipment since 2000.
The group hopes to forge partnerships with other mobile operators and fixed-line telecoms groups to enable bundles of services that should appeal to big corporate and small business customers. Orange has been promoting its business offering with the Hard-Nose Businessman advertising campaign, and Mr Trujillo will point to recent successes in winning market share from its rivals in the competitive small business market.
Orange is also reported to be ready to join a pan-European alliance of mobile operators that will cut the costs of international calls and allow advances in messaging services. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile, Telefónica Moviles of Spain and Telecom Italia Mobile formed the alliance in April.
The dividend question has remained unresolved during a period of expanding capital expenditure, but Orange - under the influence of its 87 per cent shareholder, France Telecom - has sharply reduced investment and strived for cost savings, and is now close to cash break-even. New technologies, including video and photo messaging, will be showcased by Mr Trujillo tomorrow.
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