Abu Dhabi's e& increases stake in Vodafone Group to 14%

UAE telecoms operator has been consolidating its shareholding in the British company since acquiring a 9.8% stake in May 2022

A Vodafone in London. Abu Dhabi e& now controls an aggregate 3.79 billion shares in Vodafone. PA
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The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator e& has 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.

The Abu Dhabi company, formerly known as Etisalat, now controls an aggregate 3.79 billion shares in Vodafone, in the transaction completed on the Monday, e& said on in a bourse filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The company did not provide financial details of the deal but said "the investment rationale is unchanged” from its announcement on May 14 last year.

The UAE company first acquired about 2.76 billion shares, or a 9.8 per cent stake, in Vodafone for $4.4 billion in May 2022, before increasing its shareholding to 11 per cent in early December.

In January, it raised its stake to 12 per cent as part of efforts to "obtain significant exposure to a global leader, and leverage potential commercial partnership and realise future return on our investment”.

Earlier this month, e& increased its shareholding in the British company to 13 per cent.

The UAE company is pursuing a two-pronged strategy of expanding its telecoms asset base, plus integrating emerging technology and supporting the rapidly expanding start-up community, chief executive Hatem Dowidar told The National at last year's Gitex Global.

The telecoms industry is going through a major transformation, especially with the advent of new technology that operators are trying to integrate into their operations to add new revenue lines as competition intensifies.

Etisalat, which rebranded as e& in February last year, has embarked on an acquisition spree to broaden its revenue base and transforming itself into a global technology investment conglomerate.

Abu Dhabi-based e& is the UAE's biggest telecoms operator. Photo: E-Vision

In December, e& signed a joint venture agreement with South Korea's Bespin Global to set up a business that will provide public cloud services in the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Pakistan.

In October, e& launched a $250 million venture capital fund as part of its new investment unit, e& capital, to support the technology start-up ecosystem.

In the same month, e& enterprise completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Smartworld, a technology solutions provider and systems integrator in the UAE.

In 2021, the company raised its ownership in Etisalat Investment North Africa to 100 per cent, increasing its effective ownership in Morocco's Maroc Telecom Group to 53 per cent, from 48.4 per cent.

Updated: February 28, 2023, 9:42 AM