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Orange fails to absorb 100% of Belgian listed unit in takeover bid

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of French telecom operator Orange is seen in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris
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By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange, France's biggest telecoms firm, failed to absorb its listed Belgian unit following a takeover bid for 100% of Orange Belgium's shares, according to a statement on Thursday.

Orange's offer of 22 euros per share to buy the stock it does not already own in Orange Belgium was deemed insufficient by several minority shareholders, led by private investment firm Polygon Global Partners.

As a result, the Paris-based company spent 316 million euros ($381 million) on the bid, about half the funds it had initially planned.

It will own 77% of the share capital of Orange Belgium following takeover offer on May 17, when the payment is formally made to shareholders willing to tender their shares.

That is well below the 95% threshold needed to squeeze out minority shareholders. Orange repeatedly said it didn't intend to raise its offer price, which it considers fair.

Orange Chief Financial Officer Ramon Fernandez said last month there was no plan for a new bid for the remaining shares.

"We now have the means to improve the financial flexibility of Orange Belgium, deploy its long-term value creation strategy more effectively and enable it to better react to major transformations of the Belgian market," Fernandez said in a written statement.

Orange used money from funds recouped from a tax spat it won to acquire Orange Belgium's shares.

($1 = 0.8299 euros)

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jason Neely)

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