E&’s European push continues with PPF talks


E& confirmed on Monday that it is holding talks over a possible strategic collaboration with PPF Group, a move that would further cement its plans to push into new European markets.

The United Arab Emirates-based telecoms group did not give a lot away in its statement to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange, other than to say that talks are in the early stages and that it will update the market if and when there are any developments, but that will not stop a flurry of speculation as to its expansion plans.

“E& and PPF Group are in early stage of discussions of forming a potential partnership to explore strategic collaboration opportunities in central and southeastern Europe (excl. Czech Republic) that are mutually beneficial to both groups,” its statement reads.

PPF Group cemented its position in the European telecoms market with the €2.8 billion acquisition of Telenor’s assets in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia in March 2018, having previously acquired O2 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It has since offloaded the Montenegrin business, and separated its retail telecoms businesses from infrastructure, but seems to be sticking to its intention of being a medium-sized European telecoms operator.

That could make it the ideal partner for e&, which recently made it clear that it is looking at growth opportunities outside of its home market, Europe being of particular interest.

To date, all eyes have been on its dealings with Vodafone. E& started buying into Voda in May last year and, after upping its stake a number of times, agreed a strategic partnership with the telco group two months ago. It is now Vodafone’s biggest shareholder, has a seat on the board, and has agreed to work with the operator in various areas of service and technology.

It’s tempting to assume it is working towards something similar with PPF Group, particularly given that it has an adjacent retail telecoms operating footprint to Vodafone. But e& has been ringing the changes since it rebranded early last year, and it’s no longer all about telecoms.

Indeed, the name change to e&, from Etisalat Group, came about because the company believes it better encapsulates its role as a global tech firm and investment conglomerate, rather than merely a telco. Telecoms is still right up there: e& was clear at the time that it was looking to expand into new markets with its telco operations. However, it’s also looking to build up digital services and set itself up as an investor in new business areas.

PPF, of course, is not all about telecoms either. As e& points out, PPF Group is an international investment company with operations in the Czech Republic and 25 additional countries across Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa, its core lines of business being financial services, telecoms, media and e-commerce.

All of which is to point out that there could be numerous areas of overlap for e& and PPF Group. Should their talks prove fruitful, there could be a really interesting collaboration announcement from e& in the not-too-distant future.


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One comment

  1. Avatar Professor peter Curwen 04/07/2023 @ 6:13 pm

    What is most interesting is that the stake in Vodafone did not cause its share price to rise. So what does this signify in relation to e&’s ability to turn around its acquisitions? That the markets aren’t impressed by the strategy? It is not the first telco to emerge from the middle-east with great ambitions – remember Zain? – and it is choosing an odd collection in Europe.

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