e& pours cold water on United Group acquisition report

The UAE’s e& has poured cold water on a report by Bloomberg that it is mulling a potential acquisition of south-east European service providers and media company United Group.

Bloomberg reported that the Middle Eastern group was considering acquiring the group, which is majority owned by private equity outfit BC Partners.

The latter, said Bloomberg, is likely to seek an evaluation of about €8 billion for the operator, which operates across multiple countries in south-eastern Europe.

E& said it had not entered into any agreement  or negotiation with United Group, although it added the caveat that continually reviews relevant market opportunities.

According to Bloomberg, BC Partners plans to initiate a sales process for United Group next month.

E& clearly has ambitions in United Group’s neighbourhood. Last August, the Emirates group signed a deal with Czech investment outfit PPF Group to acquire a 50% plus one share in its telco assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia, with the aim to build a major telecommunications business in central and eastern Europe.

E& recently posted revenue growth of 9% to AED14.2 billon (US$3.9 billion) for the first quarter, and profits of AED2.3 billion, up 7%.

The group’s mobile base grew by 5.3% to 12.8 million, while its eLife subscriber base grew by 5.1% to 1.2 million.

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