The first EUR 300 million tranche of a loan that the European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted to France Telecom to finance broadband investment in Spain, where it trades under the Orange brand, was signed today in Madrid.

At the signing ceremony, the EIB stressed the operation’s importance “not only because of the amount involved, but also because this is the Bank’s first direct loan to France Telecom, one of the world’s leading telecoms operators, and because this will be the biggest finance contract in the telecoms sector signed by the Bank in Spain in 2009”.

The soundness of our project, our presence in the Spanish market with over 12.5 million customers and our future plans, enabled us to gain access to EIB finance on highly favourable terms”, said Orange Spain’s CEO Jean Marc Vignolles.

Rolled out over the period 2008-2010, the project consists of the extension, upgrading and integration of mobile (3G) and fixed (ADSL) telephony networks in line with France Telecom’s “Orange 2012” strategy for Spain.

Orange is the third biggest fixed and mobile telephony operator in Spain. The project will help to improve access to broadband services in Spain and foster competition in the telecoms sector – two of the EIB’s key objectives under the Lisbon strategy designed to boost the competitiveness of the European economy.

About the EIB:

The EIB is the EU’s long-term financing institution promoting European objectives. Founded in 1957, it operates in the 27 EU Member States and over 130 other countries worldwide.

The Bank is highly involved in financing investment aimed at boosting the competitiveness of the European economy. It supports projects fostering research, development and innovation, education and training, the spread of new technologies and the development of information and communications technologies, especially those promoting access to broadband telecoms services.

About Orange Spain:

Orange is the brand under which France Telecom provides telecoms services in Spain.  With over 12.5 million customers (11.4 million for mobile telephones and nearly 1.2 million for broadband Internet), Orange provides mobile and fixed telephony, broadband internet and ADSL TV services for households and companies.