In a statement issued on 14 May, the United Arab Emirates-based telecommunications giant e& (Emirates Telecommunications Group) said it had acquired a 9.8% stake in the UK’s Vodafone Group for US$4.4bn.
The move makes e& Vodafone’s largest shareholder.
“Vodafone is one of the leading businesses at the heart of digital communications in Europe and Africa with a compelling business offering critical connectivity and digital services,” said Hatem Dowidar, group chief executive of e&.
“Our investment represents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant stake in one of the leading and strongest global telecom brands, and a company that we know well. We are looking forward to building a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Vodafone with the goal of driving value creation for both our businesses, exploring opportunities in the rapidly developing global telecom market and supporting the adoption of next-generation technologies.”
Emirates Telecommunications Group, e&, has tech investment ambitions
The Abu Dhabi-headquartered company, which was founded in 1976 and was originally known as Etisalat, is looking to diversify into a technology and investment group. It was the UAE’s first telecoms business with operations in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 159 million customers.
The company rebranded in February this year as it attempts to position itself as a global technology investment concern, with this purchase showing a clear signal of intent.
“e& sees this investment as a highly efficient use of its strong balance sheet at a compelling and attractive valuation with strong currency diversification benefits,” said the statement issued by e&.
“It provides a clear opportunity to realise future value through potential capital gains and dividends. It may also lead to possible commercial partnerships in the areas of R&D, technological applications and procurement.”
In October 2021, Etisalat signed a deal with artificial intelligence services provider G42 to merge their data centre services under the name Khazna Data Centres – creating the UAE’s largest DC provider.
At the time, Dowidar, said: “Today, Etisalat [now e&] and G42 are embarking on a bold new journey which will allow us to leverage our investments and expertise to deliver next-generation digital infrastructure.
“Keeping in line with our overall strategy and vision of ‘Driving the Digital Future to Empower Societies’, we at Etisalat are committed to a total transformation of customer experiences. Etisalat Group today has set the foundation for creating a market leader in this space, and together with G42, we will take this to the next level.”
The state-owned e& also recently acquired the UAE online grocery market ElGrocer.
Vodafone is set to announce full-year results on Tuesday (17 May).