e& Group refutes report of potential United Group deal
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e& Group refutes report of potential United Group deal

e& Group refutes report of potential United Group deal

The Abu Dhabi-listed firm said it “continually reviews relevant market opportunities with the objectives of maximising shareholder value”

Kudakwashe Muzoriwa
e& Group refutes reports of potential United Group deal

e& Group said it has “not entered into any negotiation or agreement” to acquire United Group BV after a media report said the UAE telecoms giant is considering buying the European cable and pay-TV operator’s assets.

“In response to media reports speculating on e& Group’s potential acquisition of United Group BV, we confirm that e& has not entered into any negotiation or agreement in respect of United Group BV’s assets,” the telecoms firm said in a bourse filing.

However, the Abu Dhabi-listed firm said it “continually reviews relevant market opportunities with the objectives of maximising shareholder value.”

With a market capitalisation of Dhs142.6bn as of May 3, 2024, e& has emerged as one of Abu Dhabi’s top overseas investors along with the emirate’s various sovereign funds. The group’s expansion plans fit with the emirate’s ambition to grow state-owned entities through acquisitions, creating companies with large international footprints.

e& agreed to acquire a controlling stake in PPF Telecom Group’s assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia for $2.4bn in August 2023, following through on the group’s plan to boost its global presence by diversifying into new geographies.

The deal includes as much as EUR350m in milestone payments if PPF exceeds certain targets, and has a clawback provision of as much as EUR75m if it does not. It also marked the Abu Dhabi firm’s second large foray into Europe since its investment in Vodafone.

The company has built up a stake in UK’s Vodafone since its initial investment in May 2022 and the two companies agreed to deepen their relationship in May 2023.

Closer to home, e& bought a $400m stake in the super app developed by Careem in April 2023 and was considering increasing its shareholding in Saudi Arabia’s Mobily.

The company is also considering buying into Ethiopia’s state-controlled telecom operator and has explored an offer for part or all of Vodafone’s stake in Johannesburg-listed Vodacom,according to a Bloomberg report.

e& Group’s growth potential

Meanwhile, e&’s Q1 2024 profit rose by 7 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Dhs2.3bn, driven by an increase in the company’s subscriber base and expansion of partnerships across its verticals.

The company’s revenues in the three months to March 31 reached $3.9bn (Dhs14.2bn), a 9 per cent increase compared to the same period a year earlier. Its UAE subscriber base grew 4.5 per cent annually to 14.5 million, while aggregate subscribers increased by 5 per cent on an annual basis to 173 million.

The mobile subscriber base increased by 5.3 per cent on a yearly basis to 12.8 million subscribers, attributed to “solid YoY growth in both the prepaid and postpaid segments”.

Similarly, the Abu Dhabi-listed firm said eLife subscriptions rose by 5.1 per cent annually to 1.2 million subscribers.

e& and its partners in the Global Telco AI Alliance set up a joint venture in Q1 2024 to develop telco-specific Large Language Models (LLMs) to advance customer service through advanced artificial intelligence solutions.

The company plans to invest $6bn over the next two years to advance technological and infrastructure development, and boost digital solutions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Read: e& Group’s subscriber base grows to 173 million in Q1 2024 

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