October 2, 2014 / 3:08 PM / in 3 years

Vodafone Qatar agrees to buy state-owned broadband firm

A man checks his mobile phone as he walks past a shop displaying the Vodafone logo on its shutter in Mumbai January 15, 2014.Danish Siddiqui

DUBAI (Reuters) - Vodafone Qatar said it has reached a non-binding agreement to buy state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) and expects to complete the deal by the end of 2014.

Vodafone Qatar, the country's No.2 mobile operator by subscribers, will buy 100 percent of QNBN, comprising 21 million shares at a par value of 10 Qatar riyals ($2.75) per share, according to a company statement.

That would equate to a deal worth 210 million riyals, although Vodafone Qatar did not say whether it would actually pay par value for the shares.

QNBN began rolling out a fibre network across all of Qatar in 2012 and expects to complete construction within three years, according to its website.

The company has agreements to provide wholesale broadband capacity to both Vodafone Qatar and former telecom monopoly Ooredoo.

"Completion of the transaction is conditional upon regulatory approvals and consents, completion of due diligence, agreement on the consideration payable, the arrangement and provision of funding to finance the acquisition and entry into of a definitive share purchase agreement," Vodafone Qatar said.

Vodafone Qatar's main shareholders are state-run Qatar Foundation, which owns 22 percent, and London-listed Vodafone, which holds 23 percent. The remainder of the shares are freely traded. Government entities own the majority of Ooredoo.

Vodafone Qatar had a 33.8 percent share of Qatar's mobile subscribers as of March 31, according to its financial statement.

Reporting by Matt Smith and Archana Narayanan; editing by Keiron Henderson

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