Vodafone Qatar agrees to buy state-owned broadband provider

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

The operator, which is 51 per cent owned by the Vodafone group, said it reached an agreement with Information Communication Technology Holdings (ICTH) to buy 100 per cent of the shares in QNBN. According to Reuters, the transaction will comprise 21 million shares at a par value of 10 Qatar riyals (€2.10/$2.75) per share. The transaction will be subject to regulatory approvals and consents.

Vodafone Qatar said the purchase of the broadband services provider will enable it to "deliver the benefits of choice to customers in the fixed-line market in Qatar." The mobile operator added that it believes the transaction will be a major contributor towards the achievement of the policy objectives laid down in the National Broadband Plan.

Vodafone Qatar has been providing mobile services in the country since March 2009, and now claims to operate a network with 100 per cent geographic coverage. It launched fibre-based broadband services for consumers and enterprises in October 2012, and had already planned to cooperate with QNBN on the further expansion of its fibre services.

The move to now buy the fixed broadband provider aligns with Vodafone Group's strategy to bolster its mobile assets on a country-by-country basis in order to drive its "unified communications" agenda--that is, the ability to offer fixed and mobile services from one source as part of a general convergence trend.

Indeed, Vodafone Group has been snapping up fixed and cable assets across its European footprint, making use of the funds it raised from the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless. The company recently acquired cable operator Ono in Spain, for example, and in August Vodafone Greece agreed to acquire 72.7 per cent of Greek broadband provider Hellas Online.

For more:
- see this Vodafone Qatar release
- see this Reuters article

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