UAE-based e& is reportedly exploring an acquisition of European telecoms and media business United Group in a potential €8 billion deal, as part of its strategy to target opportunities outside its home market.

Bloomberg revealed United Group’s majority owner BC Partners is working with advisers to discuss the sale of the company, potentially seeking a valuation of €8 billion and e& had emerged as a suitor.

BC Partners bought a majority stake in United Group in 2019 from investment company KKR, which retains a minority stake alongside the operator’s management team.

The outlet reported e& “has been evaluating the possible purchase” of United Group, which provides broadband, mobile connectivity and pay-TV content in eight European markets.

Bloomberg’s sources added deliberations between e& and BC Partners are still in a premature phase, and there is a possibility for United Group to be sold “to multiple buyers”.

BC Partners expects to start a formal sale process as early as next month.

e& has a 14.6 per cent stake in Vodafone Group, in which it initially bought a 9.8 per cent stake in 2022 as part of a strategy to increase exposure outside of its home market. Its ownership in Vodafone has been under the UK security authorities’ microscope.

Hatem Dowidar, CEO at e&, was appointed Vodafone’s board member earlier this year. In March 2023, Dowidar revealed a desire for the company to invest in a global scale.

The business also agreed to acquire a controlling stake in PPF Group’s telecoms assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.