The fall out continues after CEO Stephane Richard of French telecom giant Orange SA said that he would pull his company’s name from the Israeli marketplace “tomorrow” if he could. Israel’s Partner Communications currently offers mobile phone services in Israel under the Orange brand name.
Speaking at a news conference in Cairo Richard said, “I am ready to abandon this tomorrow morning but the point is that I want to secure the legal risk for the company. I want to terminate this, once again, but I don’t want to expose Orange to a level of risk and of penalties that could be really sizable for the company.”
Orange is 25% owned by the French government and anti-Israel groups have been critical of the Israeli cell phone provider for operating in the West Bank.
The owner of Partner Communications, Haim Saban, said in response, “I’m proud to hold the controlling stake in Partner, which is an Israeli owned company that leases the Orange brand. Threats won’t deter me and I will continue to work on behalf of Israel and lead the global struggle in support of Israel.”
Partner responded with the following statement, “We wish to highlight that Partner Communications is an Israeli company owned by Saban Capital Group, which is owned by Haim Saban, and not by France Telecom (Orange). The company is holding the Orange brand name since 1998, and the only connection between us and France Telecom is the brand name.”