UAE's e& in talks with PPF Group on possible partnership as part of expansion

The telecoms company operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa

e&'s T&A building, Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator e& — formerly known as Etisalat — is in talks with Czech investment company PPF Group regarding a possible partnership as part of its push into Europe.

In a statement on Monday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade, e& said it was at the "early stage of discussions of forming a potential partnership to explore strategic collaboration opportunities in central and southeastern Europe, excluding the Czech Republic, that are mutually beneficial to both groups".

PPF Group operates in the Czech Republic as well as 25 other countries across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, covering the financial services, telecommunications, media and e-commerce sectors.

PPF is also active in real estate, biotechnology and transport products and services. The group's founder and previous majority owner Czech billionaire Petr Kellner was killed in a helicopter crash in 2021.

Mr Kellner was the Czech Republic’s richest man at the time of his death with a fortune valued at $15.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

PPF, which has about 40 billion euros ($43.7 billion) in assets and is majority-owned by the Kellner family, has pressed forward with corporate deals in spite of the tragedy.

In February, it took a 9.1 per cent stake in Germany's ProSiebensat.1, becoming its second largest investor behind Italy's MFE-MediaforEurope.

e& said it would make a regulatory filing regarding any future developments in its talks with PPF.

e&, founded in 1976, is the UAE's oldest telecoms company, operating in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The company is expanding its presence and has been on an acquisition spree in recent months.

In May, it invested $60 million for a 10 per cent stake in South Korea’s cloud management company Bespin Global, and also formed a joint venture that will provide public cloud services in the region.

In April, it signed a $400 million deal to acquire a majority stake in Careem’s Super App, a spin-off from Uber, as part of efforts to expand its consumer digital offerings.

This year, e& increased its stake in Vodafone Group to 14 per cent as it continues to consolidate its shareholding in the British company as part of its international expansion plans.

In 2022, the company's net profit increased more than 7 per cent to Dh10 billion ($2.72 billion), despite revenue falling 1.7 per cent to Dh52.4 billion.

Updated: July 03, 2023, 4:45 AM