The news comes just days before Telefónica’s Capital Markets day, taking place on 8th November
The Spanish State holding company SEPI (Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales) has announced that is considering purchasing a stake in Telefónica, just weeks after Saudi Arabian operator STC announced its intention to build a 9.9% stake in the business.
The STC deal included the acquisition of 4.9% of Telefonica’s shares, with the remaining 5% stake derived from various financial instruments. The Saudi firm plans to secure voting rights for the 5% interest held through financial instruments after receiving regulatory approvals, the company said.
Combined, the 9.9% stake will be worth around €2.1 billion.
The move would make STC Telefonica’s largest shareholder, with STC calling the move a continuation of their global growth strategy focussed on technology and digital infrastructure. The company says it does not have any interest in acquiring a controlling stake in the business.
Nonetheless, the move has warranted the attention of the Spanish government, which considers Telefonica’s networks to be infrastructure critical to the country’s national security. Spanish law dictates that any deal that would see a foreign company take a stake of between 5% and10% in such a business is subject to government review.
In this case, the government’s decision is expected early next year.
Now, it seems that the government is also considering countering the influence of STC in a more indirect fashion, potentially taking an equivalent stake in Telefonica via SEPI.
SEPI announced in a stock market filing this week that they were “carrying out an internal exploratory analysis of a possible acquisition of a shareholding in Telefónica”, although, SEPI President Belen Gualda Gonzalez added that this analysis does not imply a confirmed decision on acquisitions and is not binding in any way.
“Telefónica is a strategic company for Spain due to its role in the field of telecommunications, but also in defence, and we are not going to comment on every [piece of] information that is published, out of prudence,” said government spokesperson and minister for territorial policy Isabel Rodriguez in Spanish paper El Economista.
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