Alexandre Pébereau and Tofane Global or the future of International Wholesale

Tofane Global’s vision is to create an independent specialist focused on developing a platform with advanced services that creates value for the communications industry when it comes to their international voice and mobile data services as well as the developing needs of the OTT/IoT suppliers.

Alexandre Pebereau is Tofane Global CEO.

With over 25 years track record in the USA, France and Morocco, in various executive capacities in the world of telecommunication (with V. Bolloré & in telecoms – o/w MD, Delmas Containers & Ships, MD and CFO, Maroc Telecom)
Mr. Pebereau served 7 years as CEO at Orange Carriers (international connectivity & roaming services), and created and chaired ITW Founders’ council of top 25 carriers.  Mr. Pebereau generously granted me this interview despite his busy schedule and welcomed me in his office located in the heart of Paris.

From his splendid office, overseeing the beautiful west part of the French capital, Mr Pebereau passionately started the conversation with this revelation: “The global wholesale business is alive and healthy with great and beautiful years ahead!”

The International Inter Operator Services (IIOS) are now increasingly outsourced to providers such as Tofane Global. Pending regulatory approvals, the acquisition of iBasis and Altice’s international wholesale division, Tofane has positioned itself as a major player in the market to respond to that demand, making it their core business. “It is a wholesaler job, with significant scale up effects. Altice will be able to lower its transit costs through this operation, as the costs will be spread over larger volumes of traffic across the entire world, “explains Alexandre Pébereau, Tofane Global’s CEO to Les Echos.

“While we started one year ago, we have signed our first two businesses in one week last March and thus became the third largest supplier in the world through that operation” said Alexandre Pébereau.

On March 8th, the former Executive of Orange Telecom has indeed secured the acquisition of iBasis, a subsidiary of the Dutch Royal KPN group who is one of the leaders in this sector. This operation will allow Tofane Global to be present now in 16 countries, especially in the Netherlands and the United States.

Les Echos the 13/03/2018

What about Tofane Global?

I left Orange to create Tofane Global. My time at Orange group was spent on developing the International Carriers division for 7 years. During that time, the strategy was already to regroup each country’s operation and so to consolidate voice, mobile and data businesses of the entire Orange Telecom and then market these services to other operators around the world. That strategy made Orange the world’s number one in international telecommunications. As others, we were convinced that the traditional market of Voice Communications would disappear as we know it. But we expected also  a deep evolution of the traffic flows: Voice Communication has been first and foremost a usage growing enormously: making 7 billion phones calls worldwide and going from (Telegeography figures) 10 minutes of international calls per month per person on earth to 1 hour, and part of that traffic is still being paid for, despite going over IP.

For retail and enterprise operators, wholesale at the international level is important but not core. There is room for independent players – ie not associated to a telecom group, and consequently neutral to all customers – to develop organically and now through acquisitions.

In order to be independent and have access to capital investments, Tofane Global raised funds through private equity funds and institutional financial investors.

Trocadero and Ciclad funds came to support our development and the digital transformation of the sector.

What is Tofane Global Project?

We offer three “peaks”, like Mount Tofane, in the Alps (the origin of our name Tofane): We are a partner of choice for operators, we are independent and we are here to stay.

iBasis was born at the same time as voice over IP, real time communication. iBasis, like Skype, are actors of the digital revolution. They came and shake up the industry. iBasis was one of the first players to integrate the international business of an established operator, Royal KPN group in 2005, with VoIP remaining at the core of its strategy.

13 years later, we aim at reproducing the same disruption but independently, because the volumes are everywhere and do not belong anymore to one single entity.  This fragmented market needs consolidation to be better armed for the digital transformation and for ripping the benefits of the exploding demand of mobile data and the emergence of IoT.

iBasis is pursuing innovation in global voice and mobile data communications, multi-service IPX network, 4G signaling and roaming, VoLTE and now eSIM with global data access to the IoT/M2M market. The company became the third supplier of 4G mobile data capability after Syniverse and BICS.  iBasis is very well positioned for these services which are growing really fast. They are also developing and monetizing IoT services over their global infrastructure.

What about the integration ?

 The iBasis teams are present in 16 countries and generate €700 million of revenue. Altice already restructured its wholesale activities, so once launched, the integration will have minimum impact on the teams in France, Portugal and Dominican Republic. We can also expect that growth opportunities in these countries will result in a positive employment outlook.

With its international character, our job is essentially relying on strong business relationships and on trust. The teams of iBasis and Altice are among the most acknowledged professionals, recognized for their reliability and are well respected by the entire industry and I’m very confident about the upcoming phases to smoothly complete the integration.

After going through the necessary regulatory and legal process, the integration will be very fast by organizing the network around the main different service platforms. Big scale up effects are expected for our customers.

Our customers will also benefit of the excellent geographical footprint complementarity in Europe – North and South, North America – Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Also, KPN, Altice and its subsidiaries SFR, MEO and Dominicana remain very long-term strategic partners for their international operator services.

 

What are the main messages would you like to share with the readers?

First message

Telecoms carriers, Internet carriers as well as digital services providers have become one industry on their own. That’s the message I drove home at Orange and I am driving it home now: instead of being scattered departments and teams, we have become one industry on our own. We represent 30 billion Euros of revenue in the world each year, in voice, mobile and internet communications. An industry on its own rights serving telco operators but new kinds of customers with the Over-The-Top players that they are very large consumers of wholesale services.

Second message

As a full-fledged industry, relying on services like voice which generate strong cash flows, and mobile services with strong growth prospects we are now having access to financial markets to invest. This access was impossible in the past.

Third message

As international connectivity cost is decreasing like many telecom services, to scale up, consolidation and strategic partnerships are globally needed between multiple operators

We have a credo: authentication is at the heart of the service of the operators. We need to be sure that the person you are calling is the person you want to call, and vice versa.

It has become normal to call all over the world. It is also normal to call from all over the world, as well as sending sms. Now, it’s all about the apps on a smartphone that you want to work in the same way abroad as it does in your home country.

It is therefore always an international end-to-end and secured service, regardless of borders, standards and currencies. In this case, the “International Provider” offer with its scale up effects and global coverage meet the demand of the new communication players like the OTT of the world in a simple, competitive and secured way.”

In conclusion, we can say that Alexandre Pebereau has found the keys to revive the wholesale market from its ash.

Interview by Florence SEBASTIEN, FSE Consulting
www.fseconsulting.fr