Spanish investment holding company CriteriaCaixa increased its stake in Telefonica to just more than 5 per cent, the latest institution in the country to buy up shares in the group after stc splashed in excess of €2 billion on a significant interest.

Prior to the increase, CriteriaCaixa held a 2.7 per cent direct stake in Telefonica. It also owns a significant share of CiaxaBank, which last month cut its own share in the operator group from 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

CriteriaCaixa noted the Telefonica investment was a “strategic and long-term” move, adding its “main goal is to provide the highest shareholder stability to the telecommunications operator, an essential company both for the country and for the industry at an international level”.

Announcement of its increased Telefonica equity comes two weeks after Spain’s government bought a 3 per cent stake through state-owned Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales.

Authorities in the country aim to eventually own up to 10 per cent of the operator, a move which local media positioned as a response to stc acquiring a stake which could eventually make it Telefonica’s largest direct shareholder.

In 2023, stc bought 4.9 per cent of Telefonica directly, with “economic exposure” on a further 5 per cent through other financial instruments.