The two firms continue to deepen ties, saying they will work together on technology, procurement, and creating joint solutions for customers
This week, Vodafone has announced that the CEO of its largest stakeholder, e&, will be joining its board as a non-executive director.
e& CEO Hatem Dowidar’s new seat at the table is reportedly ensured provided the Emirati operator group retains at least its 14.6% stake in Vodafone, with the option of nominating a second non-executive director if the stake is increased to 20%.
This possibility could become reality in the relative short term, with e& telling investors in recent weeks that it was interested in increasing its stake in Vodafone to between 20% and 25%.
The seats on the board have been made available due to the announcement that three of Vodafone’s non-executive directors – Valerie Gooding, Sir Crispin Davis, and Dame Clara Furse – will not seek re-election at the company’s annual meeting.
Alongside e&’s influential board position, the announcement also revealed the extent to which Vodafone and e& will begin working more closely together. The duo will reportedly focus on a number of key areas, including offering cross-border digital services and solutions to multi-national customers, joint procurement, and wholesale and roaming.
The duo will also work more closely together from a technological perspective, particularly when it comes to further developing OpenRAN.
“Our investment in Vodafone is anchored by Vodafone Group’s established position and worldwide reputation as a prominent industry player that provides cutting-edge connectivity and digital services. This aligns with e&’s vision of becoming a global telecom and technology player,” said Dowidar
e& first took an interest in Vodafone in May last year, paying $4.4 billion for a 9.8% stake in the business. At the time, the Emirati telecoms group said it had no interest in taking over Vodafone, suggesting the deal was an excellent opportunity to “enhance and develop” their international portfolio and expand the company’s reach.
The purchase appeared relatively opportunistic, with Vodafone’s management at the time embroiled in a tussle with disgruntled shareholders over the company’s poor financial performance and depressed share price.
Indeed, e& was not the only company to swoop in and take a stake in the faltering operator group over the past year, with both French billionaire Xavier Niel and Liberty Global taking stakes in Vodafone Group.
e& itself has gradually increased its stake to its current 14.6% holdings over the last six months.
Ultimately, Vodafone’s CEO, Nick Read, resigned at the end of 2022 after failing to make meaningful progress in reversing the company’s fortunes. Since then, the company has been headed up by the group’s previous head of finance, Margherita Della Valle, who was permanently awarded the role of CEO last month.
“We extend a warm welcome to Margherita Della Valle as Vodafone’s newly appointed Group Chief Executive Officer, and we have full confidence in her leadership abilities to steer the company toward growth. We are convinced that our strategic relationship will unlock opportunities for both companies to explore the swiftly expanding global telecom market and next-generation technologies,” said Dowidar.