After Israelis woke up today to the shocking news that 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, multiple Israeli media sources are reporting that Orange has decided to do exactly that.
Israel’s Partner Communications currently offers mobile phone services in Israel under the Orange brand name and pays about $4 million a year for it, reports Globes.
Richard’s statements led to a public outcry in Israel where many people threatened to dump Orange brand cell phone service because they do not wish to see their money go to the French company. Today Partner Communications’ staffers held a protest over Richard’s comments at the company’s local offices.
Israeli politicians and diplomats tried to put pressure on the French government over Richard’s comments. Israeli Ambassador to France Yossi Gal called on the French to condemn Richard’s Cairo remarks. Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev called the comments anti-semitic and called on the French President to fore Richard from his position with Orange in which the French government has a 25% stake. She texted, “The French government must show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.”
Orange, blaming the reaction in Israel for its decision, released the following statement, “In line with its brand policy, Orange does not want to keep its brand presence in countries where it is not an operator. Within this framework, and while strictly respecting existing accords, Orange would like to put an end to this brand licencing.”
So it is only because the company no longer wishes to have franchisees and only wants to be in nations where it operates a company itself that Orange is pulling out of Israel. That is what we are supposed to believe Richard meant.
Do these people think that Israelis are all a bunch of idiots? After what Richard said and the outcry over it, to suddenly pull out of Israel for such an obviously contrived reason implies that they do.
The French government has yet to comment on the whole matter.