Emirates telecommunications group e& acquires 9.8% stake in Vodafone for $4.4 billion

© Reuters. The Vodafone logo is seen at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ​​Spain on February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) – Emirates telecommunications conglomerate PJSC (now known as e&) said on Saturday it has acquired a 9.8% stake in Vodafone (Nasdaq: ) for $4.4 billion.

The move comes days after e& said it was looking to expand into new markets in Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as areas outside telecommunications, such as financial technology, in a bid to drive growth.

Like all mobile operators, Vodafone has struggled in its more mature markets, where competition and regulation have pushed prices down.

The group, whose net debt has reached 44.3 billion euros ($46.1 billion), is under pressure to simplify its portfolio and boost returns after its shares fell more than 20 percent since taking over in 2018.

Vodafone said it was looking forward to partnering with United Arab Emirates-based e&.

“Our long-term strategic plan continues to make good progress and will provide an update in our FY22 results announcement on May 17,” it said in a statement.

E& said it had made investments to gain “significant exposure as a world leader in connectivity and digital services”.

It added that it had no intention of making an offer to buy Vodafone and said it fully supported the company’s current business strategy and its board and existing management team.

CEO Hatem Dowidar said: “We see this investment as a great opportunity for e& and its shareholders as it will allow us to strengthen and grow our international portfolio in line with our strategic ambitions.”

The Emirati company recently split its business into Consumer Services-focused Electronics & Living, Electronics & Enterprise, which provides digital services to governments and businesses, and telecommunications unit Etisalat, which its CEO says is the seventh-largest in the world by market capitalization .

(1 USD = 0.9605 EUR)

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