UAE telecoms company e&, formerly known as Etisalat, has taken a near 10-percent stake in Vodafone as the global mobile phone company comes under pressure for a business shake-up.
e& is now Vodafone’s biggest shareholder after confirming snapping up a 9.8 percent stake in the British group for $4.4 billion.
The UAE-based firm has been looking to expand into new markets, including Africa and Europe.
Etisalat CEO Hatem Dowidar said he was looking forward to “building a mutually beneficial strategic partnership”, it is understood that the telecoms company doesn’t intend to buy Vodafone and fully supports the company’s board.
However, the move put enhanced pressure on Vodafone chief Nick Read to accelerate market consolidation.
Vodafone, like other mobile operators, has been struggling in its more mature markets, where competition and regulation have pushed prices lower.
Net debt at the group has reached $46.1 billion and Chief Executive Nick Read is under pressure to simplify its portfolio and improve returns after a more than 20 percent slide in its share price since he took over in 2018.