Orange is a mobile network operator and internet service provider in the United Kingdom, which launched in 1993. It was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but was purchased by France Télécom in 2000, which then adopted the Orange brand for all its other mobile communications activities. Orange UK has since merged with Deutsche Telekom’s T Mobile UK to form a joint venture, EE. Orange UK has over 17 million customers through its mobile and former broadband services.
The inception of Orange brand was in 1990 in United Kingdom with the formation of “Microtel Communications Ltd” – a consortium initially formed by Pactel Corporation (American), British Aerospace, Millicom and Matra (French); and later, to be wholly owned by BAe. In July 1991, the Hong Kong based conglomerate – Hutchison Whampoa through a stock swap deal with BAe, acquired a controlling stake of 65% in Microtel, who by then had won a license to develop a Personal communications network (PCN) network in United Kingdom. As per the stock swap deal, BAe was given a 30% stake in Hutchison Telecommunications (UK) Ltd.
Hutchison renamed Microtel to Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd; and on 28 April 1994, ‘Orange’ 1800-MHz GSM network was launched in the UK mobile network market. The Orange brand, at the time an unusual name for a telecommunications firm, was created by an internal team at Microtel headed by Chris Moss (Marketing Director) and supported by Martin Keogh, Rob Furness and Ian Pond. The brand consultancy Wolff Olins was charged with designing the brand values and logo and advertising agency WCRS created the Orange slogan “The future’s bright, the future’s Orange”.
A holding company structure was adopted in 1995 with the establishment of Orange plc. In April 1996, Orange went public and floated on the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, majority owned by Hutchison (48.22%), followed by BAe (21.1%). In June 1996, it became the youngest company to enter the FTSE 100, valued at £2.4 billion. And by July 1997 Orange had gained one million customers.