Vodafone Group’s biggest shareholder said it’s considering increasing its stake to ensure it has influence over the British telecommunications company’s future.
Emirates Telecommunications Group, also known as e&, told investors on its first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday that it might raise its stake in Vodafone to 20% or 25%, according to an analyst report of the call and three people who dialled in who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorised to speak to the media.
E& has built a 14.6% stake in Vodafone and said last month that it had opened discussions with the company to push for changes on its board. Vodafone, which controls Johannesburg-listed Vodacom Group, is working to streamline its operations and turn around a years-long slump in its shares under new CEO Margherita Della Valle.
The British carrier has also attracted other investors from the industry including Liberty Global and Xavier Niel, the French billionaire who controls Iliad. Together, they control more than a fifth of Vodafone’s shares.
E& CEO Hatem Dowidar said the Abu Dhabi-based company’s objective is to become a “significant minority investor with enough influence”, and said this “might be 20%, it might be 25% — that’s the limit”, according to a note to clients by Berenberg analyst Carl Murdock-Smith.
According to the note, e& also said it had received “no indication” of a dividend cut at the Newbury, England-based telecoms group, despite some wider market fears.
Representatives for e& declined to comment on the call “beyond commitment to the current dividend”. Vodafone reports full-year results on 16 May. A spokesman for the company declined to comment. — Thomas Seal, Henry Ren and Loni Prinsloo, (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP