Orange is in Israel to stay, according to CEO

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By Larry Banks

The Chief Executive of telecommunications firm Orange says that they have no plans to pull out of Israel, following a spat over its plan to terminate a licensing deal there.

Israel protested to France after the Orange CEO Stephane Richard said the 25% state-owned telecoms firm would terminate an arrangement with Israel’s Partner Communications, with some accusing that Orange was giving in to a pro Palestinian boycott movement.

Orange to stay in Israel

“Orange does not support any form of boycott, in Israel or anywhere else in the world”, Richard said in comments this week.

“Our decision on the use of the brand is motivated – as it is all over the world – solely by our brand strategy. Let me make it very clear that the Orange Group is in Israel to stay”.

Orange has a presence in Israel via Orange Business Services, Internet television unit Viaccess-Orca, and also Orange laboratories.

Richard had been quoted as saying on Wednesday that he would possibility withdraw the Orange brand from Israel on Thursday.

However, an Orange spokesperson said there had been a huge misunderstanding and Richard had not indicated that the company would exit the country.

In a recording of the conference where Richard spoke, he said Orange had negotiated a termination date in the contract in terms of using the Orange brand.

“Now…we have the capacity to terminate this contract in the future”, he said. “Our intention is to terminate the contract. Our intention is as soon as possible from a contractual point of view and preserving our interests of course, our intention is to withdraw Orange brand from Israel”.

He added: “Our group policy is not to license our brand when we’re not the operator… There isn’t a single country in the world where we do that, so there’s no reason to do it in Israel either… We want to control our brand”.

The only link between Partner and Orange is the brand name, which has been used by the Israeli company since 1998. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week demanded France publicly renounce “the distressing statement and action” taken by Orange.

SOURCE: Reuters.

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