Etisalat promises it has not made a takeover attempt
Emirates Telecommunications Group Company (e&) has bought 2.76 billion of Vodafone shares for £3,59 billion giving it a 9.8 per cent stake in the network. Etisalat says it has no takeover intentions stating:
“e& plans to be a long-term and supportive shareholder in Vodafone and is not seeking to exert control or influence the company’s Board or management team. Similarly, e& has no intention to make an offer for Vodafone”.
Etisalat is the largest telecommunication corporation in the Emirates is the 18th largest mobile network operator in the world by number of subscribers.. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi UAE, it serves 11.6 million customers and over 300,000 small, medium and large enterprises and government customers in the UAE.
The company says it has has made the investment “to gain significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services.”
Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO of Etisalat (below) said: “Etisalat has made the investment in Vodafone to gain significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services. Vodafone is one of the strongest and most globally recognised brands across the telecom industry.
“It is a pioneer of digital transformation, offering some of the most advanced technology and next-generation solutions, including IoT, telematics, B2B solutions and FinTech services, within the telecom industry and for the benefit of the wider society. Vodafone strong reputation for being a leading digital-first operator, underpinned with its rigorous approach to corporate governance and well regulated global footprint, makes it an attractive opportunity for e& at this current time.”
“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. The transaction is fully aligned to e&’s announced ambition to be a global player in telecom and technology and to increase its exposure to international markets.
Dowidar says Etilisat is fully supportive of the Vodafone board and is not looking to have its own director on the Vodafone board.
“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,” he said.
The news has been described as a “bolt out of the blue” by Paolo Pescatore, a tech, media and telco analyst at PP Foresight.
“Despite Vodafone’s failed attempts to consolidate in key markets, this is a strong endorsement of its strategy and most significantly the board,” said Pescatore.
“The move itself will raise eyebrows and may lead to some tension with other shareholders who are keen to see Vodafone consolidate in key markets. There will now be opportunities for both Etisalat and Vodafone to work more closely to bring greater efficiencies and launch new products in more products globally.”
Meanwhile CCS Insight director of consumer and connectivity Kester Mann added: “The surprise move from e& could bring temporary relief to under-pressure CEO Nick Read amid mounting influence from activist shareholder Cevian Capital.
“Indeed, the presence of a new, wealthy shareholder could offer welcome financial support for Vodafone’s fixed and mobile investments across its broad footprint. It could also bolster efforts to secure deals in competitive European markets such as the UK, Italy, Spain and Portugal, something Cevian is increasingly pushing for.”
Mann, does however think Vodafone will want to monitor e&’s long-term plans, despite the backer stating it’s not intent on making an offer for Vodafone.