(Bloomberg) -- Vodafone Group Plc’s biggest shareholder, Emirates Telecommunications Group Co., has opened talks with the troubled British telecom group to push for changes on its board.

The investor, also known as e&, began discussions with Vodafone on April 12 about the non-executive directors in order to engage “on a variety of topics,” it said in a regulatory filing late Monday. The Abu Dhabi-based company, which is majority owned by the United Arab Emirates’s sovereign wealth fund, now owns 14.6% of Vodafone, up from 14%.

Vodafone’s shares, which have been steadily declining for years, have dropped about 25% since e& announced its initial holding in May. The telecom company in December ousted Chief Executive Officer Nick Read — who struggled to appease investors with moves to streamline the business and sell assets — and the board hasn’t yet named a replacement to lead Vodafone’s turnaround. 

Vodafone rose 2% to 91.51 pence at 10:30 a.m. in London trading on Tuesday. 

Two of Vodafone’s non-executive directors — Clara Furse and Crispin Davis — may step down as soon as this year because they’ve served the maximum, nine-year term recommended under the UK’s corporate governance code.

A representative for Vodafone declined to comment. A spokesperson for e& didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Furse and Davis couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Vodafone usually holds its shareholder meetings, where board directors are elected, in July. 

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

The pursuit of board representation by Vodafone’s largest shareholder e&, while expected given its growing 14.6% stake, is a positive move in light of e&’s plan to be a long-term investor in the carrier, making further stakebuilding likely. The Emirati company’s push is a change from its original position, suggesting it may become a pro-active force to ensure execution aligns with its long-term strategy.

— Erhan Gurses, BI telecoms analyst

E& is one of three strategic holders who now control more than a fifth of the Newbury, England group, including Liberty Global Plc, which holds almost 5%, and French billionaire Xavier Niel, who said he bought a 2.5% stake in September.

E&, which has said it has regulatory approval to raise its stake in Vodafone to 15%, has explored a potential investment in Vodafone’s African business, Vodacom Group Ltd., people familiar with the matter have said. 

(Updates with context)

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