French telco Orange says to recover 2.2 billion euros in tax

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French telecoms operator Orange is pictured in a retail store in Bordeaux, France, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - French telecoms group Orange said a favourable decision by the State Council regarding a long-standing tax dispute will allow it to recoup about 2.2 billion euros (1.9 billion pounds).

Orange said in a statement the decision by the council, France’s top administrative court, definitively closes the case and will allow Orange to recover the amount paid in July 2013.

Orange shares, which had been trading lower, jumped nearly 3% on the news and stood 1.8% higher on the day at 1517 GMT.

Upon payment, the amount received - principal and interest - will be recorded as current tax income and will help reduce the company’s net debt. The sums received will not be subject to tax, Orange said.

The litigation stems from the integration in 2005 of Orange’s subsidiary Cogecom.

This integration led the state-controlled telecoms group to book heavy losses that it offset against profits, thus reducing the basis on which taxes were calculated.

Last month, a top adviser to the court already argued in favour of Orange.

Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, present in 26 countries. It had sales of 42 billion euros in 2019 and 143,000 employees worldwide at Sept. 30, 2020, including 83,000 in France.

Reporting by GV De Clercq; editing by Barbara Lewis