New cabinet opens door for mobile privatisation

13 Aug 2008

Middle East Business Intelligence (MEED) reports that Lebanon’s parliament has approved the new ‘national unity’ cabinet line-up, which is now expected to announce a commitment to privatise the country’s two mobile phone networks. The privatisation was originally set for February but has suffered several delays caused by political deadlock. Lebanon’s Ministry of Telecommunications told MEED last month that the sale of controlling stakes in the GSM mobile companies, MIC1 and MIC2, might now be delayed until after parliamentary elections set for May 2009. MIC1 is currently branded Alfa and managed by a joint venture between DeTeCon International, part of the Deutsche Telekom group, and Saudi Arabia’s FAL Holding. MIC2 is currently managed by Kuwait’s Zain Group under the MTC Touch Lebanon banner. Ten international telecoms investors are expected to take part in the upcoming auction, including Zain, Etisalat, Orascom, Qatar Telecom and Saudi Telecom.