Abu Dhabi-based telco e& is considering a potential acquisition of eastern European carrier United Group BV.

As reported by Bloomberg, which cites several sources, the telco wants to increase its European presence.

– Etisalat

A potential deal could be worth €8 billion ($8.6 bn).

This is a figure that United Group's private equity owner BC Partners could look to sell for, notes the publication, which reports that BC Partners is working with advisers to explore a sale of United Group, and other suitors may emerge.

A formal sale process could begin as soon as next month.

United Group operates in several countries including Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro.

The company, which has more than seven million mobile subscribers, has also expanded into Bulgaria and Greece.

Last year, the company agreed to sell its mobile tower infrastructure unit in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia to Saudi Telecom's (STC) tower infrastructure unit Tawal.

e& has slowly built a presence in Europe, growing its stake in Vodafone Group to 14.6 percent.

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