KPN Mobile NV announced Thursday it has taken full control of KPN Orange Belgium NV/SA through a deal with France Telecom SA.

KPN Mobile, a subsidiary of Koninklijke KPN NV, said it would pay a total of 500 million euros (US$426 million), of which 398.5 million is for France Telecom’s 50 per cent stake in the Belgian mobile phone operator.

As part of the deal KPN can use the brand name Orange in Belgium until Oct. 1, 2002.

France Telecom became owner of half of KPN Orange in August when it bought Orange PLC from U.K.-based mobile phone giant Vodafone AirTouch PLC.

The European Commission decided earlier this year that France Telecom would have to sell the stake in KPN Orange as the French company already has a majority interest in competing Belgian operator Mobistar SA.

KPN Mobile said in a statement that the acquisition is part of its strategic focus on Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The company intends to participate in the upcoming Belgian auction for 3G licenses. It has already purchased licenses in the other two target countries.

Since its launch in September last year KPN Orange has attracted almost 500,000 subscribers, making it the fastest growing mobile operator in Belgium, KPN Mobile said.

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