DUBAI, UAE: After stating that it was looking to expand into new markets and related sectors, such as financial technology, UAE-based telecoms company E& bought a 9.8 percent stake in Vodafone, worth $4.4 billion.
Previously known as Emirates Telecommunications Group, E& said it did not plan to make an offer for the whole of Vodafone, though its investment it aimed to gain "significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services."
Like other mobile operators, Vodafone has been struggling in its more mature markets, due to competition and regulations pushing prices lower, with its net debt now reaching $46.1 billion.
Since he took over in 2018, the company's chief executive, Nick Read, has been under pressure to simplify its portfolio and improve returns after a more than 20 percent slide in its share price.
In a statement, Vodafone said it looked forward to building a long-term relationship with E&, adding, "We continue to make good progress with our long-term strategic plans and will provide an update in our FY22 results announcement on 17 May."
According to E&, it is fully supportive of the company's current business strategy and its board and existing management team.
Meanwhile, the Emirati company's CEO, Hatem Dowidar, said, "We see this investment as a good opportunity for E& and its shareholders, as it will allow us to enhance and develop our international portfolio, in line with our strategic ambition."
However, the investment represents less than 6 percent of E&'s market capitalization, of which it also has a healthy balance sheet with net debt/EBITDA at 0.41 times, he added.