UPDATE 1-Vodafone says CEO of top shareholder e& to join its board

Reuters · 05/11/2023 08:10
UPDATE 1-Vodafone says CEO of top shareholder e& to join its board

Adds further details, share price

- Vodafone Group VOD.L on Thursday said the chief executive of its largest shareholder, Emirates telecoms group Etisalat EAND.AD, also known as e&, would join its board as the two companies agreed to deepen their strategic relationship.

The British company said e& CEO Hatem Dowidar would stay on its board for as long as e& maintained its current 14.6% stake and it would be able to a second -executive director if its shareholding exceeded 20%.

The group has said it is open to increasing its stake in Vodafone.

Vodafone's chief executive Margherita Della Valle, who was appointed to the position permanently last month, said closer alignment with e& would benefit both companies and bring additional telecoms experience to Vodafone's board.

The groups said they could offer joint cross-border digital services and solutions to multi- and public sector organisations, consider joint procurement, form closer roaming agreements and work together in technology.

E&, which has operations in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, has built up its stake in Vodafone since an initial investment in May 2022.

It has been joined on the shareholder register by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, who competes with Vodafone in Italy, and more recently by Liberty Global, Vodafone's partner in the Netherlands.

With an underperforming share price, Della Valle is under pressure to shake up the group, which has operations across Europe and Africa, and drive the consolidation it has said is in major markets like Britain and Italy.

Analysts have said all three of Vodafone's telecoms industry shareholders could stand to benefit from changes to the company's footprint.

Shares in Vodafone were trading down 0.5% in early deals on Thursday.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle in London and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Kate Holton)

((Yadarisa.Shabong@thomsonreuters.com; +91 9742735150;))