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Orange now worth even less

France Telecom buys some armbands

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France Telecom is still insistent on pushing through Orange's float but, amid fears that the whole thing could be a failure, are now thinking of hacking a sixth off the float price to make it successful.

It's all perception, see. If people are jittery and the price deemed too high, it will slip when launched and this will cause more people to sell. Then Orange is left with the shame of a poor float. So, by discussing cutting the float price to 9.5 euros from 11.5 euros (£6 from £7.33), France Telecom is essentially buying a pair of armbands to keep the company above the water when it's chucked into the stock market swimming pool.

Of course, now that everyone has heard that Orange's price might be cut, it will be difficult not to make the cut. Funny business this floating.

The odd thing is that Orange was getting some strong backing from big investors following its most recent reduction and offer of discounts. It was starting to look like it might pull it off. With this however, Orange has managed to make itself look more vulnerable than many thought it was.

It will also remove than intangible but incredibly useful aspect of trust and respect that everyone had for Orange before France Telecom took it over and Hans Snook upped sticks. Orange used to say what it would do and then do it. People like this in a company as much as they do in a person. But Orange is now starting to look like those doddery people who can never decide what they want in a restaurant.

Shame. ®

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