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UAE-Czech telecom deal set to close by year end despite EU probe

Alamy via Reuters
The e& stand at the Mobile World Congress in Spain. The company says it has not recieved state subsidies that would help it undermine competition

UAE telecom company e&, formerly known as Etisalat, expects to close the acquisition of Czech PPF Group’s telecoms business in four countries before year-end, despite confirmation that the European Commission is to investigate the deal.

In August 2023, the telecom company signed a binding agreement with PPF Group to acquire a 50 percent plus 1 share economic stake in both the service and infrastructure companies of PPF Telecom’s assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovakia.

“The European Commission’s decision to open an in-depth investigation is a procedural step, which does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” the Abu Dhabi stock exchange-listed company said in a filing on Tuesday.

The telco continues to be in constructive discussions with the European Commission, e& said, adding that it is cooperating towards the conclusion of the foreign subsidies regulation review.

The Emirati company’s consolidated net profit rose to AED2.3 billion ($630 million) in 2023, up 7 percent year on year, as consolidated revenue reached AED14 billion, up 9 percent annually.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that e& ruled out buying out Dutch telecom operator United Group BV, which operates in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece.

The UAE telco also owns a 14.6 percent stake in London-listed Vodafone.  

Last July e& confirmed it was planning to buy a stake in Ethio, a state-controlled operator in Ethiopia.

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