Orange’s Israeli brand licensee Partner Communications will cease to use the Orange name within 24 months, the two sides announced Tuesday. Partner had previously been expected to use the Orange name until 2025.
The new agreement stipulates that Orange will pay up to €90 million to Partner, a sizable chunk of which will be used to help Partner rebrand itself in the wake of Orange’s departure.
“The discussions were pragmatic, conducted in a positive atmosphere, and the two parties reached a mutually satisfactory agreement,” Pierre Louette, Orange’s deputy CEO, told AFP.
The announcement comes just weeks after Orange CEO Stephane Richard said he would pull the French telecom giant out of Israel “tomorrow” if he could, sparking a firestorm of criticism from Israeli and French officials.
Richard told a gathering in Cairo in early June that he would break off Orange’s relationship with Partner if it weren’t for the fact that the Israeli company would likely sue.
The CEO later claimed he was misquoted, and days later rushed to Israel for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He told the prime minister that he did not support boycotts of Israel, that he admired Israel, and that he would invest more in the country.
Tellingly, though, Richard did not meet with officials of Partner during his trip – lending credence to the reports that the Orange brand name would not be used in Israel for long. When asked about that in a television interview earlier this month, Richard said, “I don’t know. We will see.”
Orange maintains that the move is motivated purely by the fact that it has no control over Partner’s activity, and has nothing to do with a boycott of Israel. In fact, it says, the company will keep investing in Israeli research and development.
AFP contributed to this report.