Client: Hutchison Telecom
PR Team: Dewe Rogerson
Campaign: Flotation of Orange digital mobile phone network
Timescale: September 1995 - March 1996
Cost: Approx pounds 500,000
When Orange was first launched in April 1994, it was perceived as a
‘lemon’ in an overcrowded and competitive telecomms market. But it
quickly became a powerful brand and put a serious squeeze on market
leaders Cellnet and Vodafone.
Easy-to-understand tariffs and innovative marketing has attracted over
half a million subscribers in just over two years.
Just a year after its launch, banks were approaching Hutchison
suggesting flotation, but while the service had a strong profile among
consumer journalists, few corporate or financial correspondents were
aware of its business pedigree. This was the challenge Hutchison faced
when it decided to float in September 1995.
To ensure the flotation was a success through establishing positive
perceptions of Orange’s management and prospects; optimising opinion
former endorsement and retail demand; and developing investor relations.
Dewe Rogerson was appointed in September following an embarrassing leak
of Orange’s intentions by a competitor on the PR pitch list.
DR used the interest generated as momentum for an autumn market
education programme. This included background briefings, facility visits
and product trials for financial and telecoms journalists in the UK and
abroad. A communication programme for analysts was accompanied by
interviews between leading financial commentators and Orange’s senior
DR also convinced its client to float as Orange, rather than Hutchison
Telecommunications UK plc, to harness the growing strength of the brand.
Gradual profile-building was boosted in December when Orange completed a
pounds 1.2 billion credit facility. DR publicised this to demonstrate
that major banks viewed Orange as a serious company.
The intention to float announcement was made in January 1996. DR
designed, produced and distributed a mailing to all Orange subscribers
offering the chance to become part-owners. This was a means of boosting
demand in a company whose product was not widely known in the City.
At the end of February the prospectus was launched and DR began a three-
week road show for potential large-scale investors in the UK, Far East,
Europe and North America. The end of March saw the announcement of price
and allocation details and shares started trading.
Dewe Rogerson achieved significant coverage in the run up to the
flotation announcement, exploiting City speculation for three months. A
steady trickle of coverage throughout the autumn culminated in major
profiles in the Sunday Telegraph and the Times in December.
After Christmas there were dozens of press and broadcast interviews
including BBC Business Breakfast, Financial World Tonight and the One
The share offer was ten times over-subscribed and 35,000 applied via the
retail offer. Following the flotation, Orange was valued at over pounds
2.5 billion and joined the ranks of the FT-SE 100 index just two months
after it came to market.
DR’s work was a key factor in the company’s meteoric rise from market
newcomer to City success, something acknowledged by Orange which has
retained the agency.
Edward Cunning-Bruce, head of corporate stocks at Kleinwort Benson,
said: ‘Dewe Rogerson anticipated the main issues and managed the flow of
The flotation ran smoothly with no specific above-the-line activity and
despite the fact that Orange’s balance sheet is historically red. The
company will be expected to make a profit by 1998 and this will
determine exactly how bright the future is.