By Adria Calatayud

Telefonica shares rose after Spain's state holding company said it would buy up to 10% of the telecommunications company, three months after Saudi Telecom Co. took a stake.

At 0834 GMT on Wednesday, shares in Telefonica traded 5.5% higher at EUR3.76, taking its gain in the year to date to 11%. The rise took the stock slightly above the level at which it closed on Sept. 5, the day when STC said it would buy the stake.

Based on Telefonica's closing share price on Tuesday, a 10% stake in the company would be worth 2.06 billion euros ($2.26 billion).

Spain's Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales said Tuesday that its move followed a decision by the Spanish cabinet and aims to provide Telefonica with greater shareholder stability.

In response, Telefonica said it remains focused on executing its recently approved strategic plan for the 2023-2026 period to continue to create value for its shareholders.

The news should support Telefonica shares in the short term given that SEPI is expected to buy shares on the market over the coming months, but over a longer-term horizon any perception of political interference could be taken badly by investors, Renta4 analyst Ivan San Felix Carbajo wrote in a research note.

The investment by SEPI comes after STC in September said it had acquired a 9.9% interest in Telefonica for EUR2.1 billion, saying it supported the company's leadership, strategy and its ability to create value.

Write to Adria Calatayud at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-20-23 0357ET