The Abu Dhabi-based telco now owns 3.27 billion shares in the British company

The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator e&, formerly known as Etisalat, has increased its stake in British company Vodafone Group as it seeks to diversify operations globally.

The company now owns an “aggregate 3,272.3 million shares, representing 12 per cent of Vodafone's issued share capital [excluding treasury shares]”, it said on Wednesday in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The move to boost the stake in Vodafone was “executed at what we believe is an attractive valuation [and] the investment rationale is unchanged from our announcement on May 14, 2022, specifically to obtain significant exposure to a global leader, and leverage potential commercial partnership and realize future return on our investment”, e& said.

The financial details of the latest transaction were not disclosed.

The UAE telco acquired about 2.76 billion shares, or a 9.8 per cent stake in Vodafone, for $4.4 billion in May, before increasing its shareholding to 11 per cent last month.

Founded in 1976, e& is the UAE's oldest telecoms company. It has operations in about 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 156 million customers.

In February, it rebranded in a push to transform into a global technology investment conglomerate.

In October, e& launched a $250 million venture capital fund as part of its new investment unit, e& capital, to support the technology start-up ecosystem.

During the same month, e& enterprise completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Smartworld, one of the UAE’s leading technology solutions providers and systems integrators.

In December, e& signed a joint venture agreement with South Korea's Bespin Global to set up a business that will provide public cloud services in the Middle East, Turkey, Africa and Pakistan. The two companies each contributed $10 million in initial capital.

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