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Telecom giants from Middle East target European market

Saudi Arabian STC Group’s purchase of a 9.9% stake in Spain’s Telefonica on Tuesday became the latest example of Middle Eastern companies investing in European telecom operators.

Between STC and UAE’s e&, they have spent over 5 billion euros in four deals in Europe in the last year. Here are some of the recent deals:

PPF Group
United Arab Emirates-based telecoms group e& EAND.AD in August agreed to pay 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) up front to buy a controlling stake in Czech PPF Group’s telecom assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.

Saudi Arabia’s STC on Tuesday said it had built up a 9.9% stake in Telefonica worth 2.1 billion euros, becoming the Spanish telecom group’s top shareholder.

United Group
Saudi Arabia’s TAWAL, a subsidiary of STC, in August raised $1.42 billion in Islamic financing to fund the acquisition of United Group’s mobile telecoms infrastructure unit in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.

UAE’s e& increased its stake in Vodafone VOD.L to 14% in February, saying its rationale was unchanged from May 2022, when it bought a 9.8% stake to “enhance and develop its international portfolio”. CEO Hatem Dowidar told CNBC Arabia in August e& was seeking to increase the stake to 20%. Reuters

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