Mobile privatisation: buck passes to next government

18 Dec 2008

The Lebanese government has announced that the privatisation of the country’s two mobile phone networks is on hold until after parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2009, reports Middle East Business Intelligence (MEED). Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that the decision on when (and if) to launch the privatisation process would be passed to the next government. The announcement was no surprise, as the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had already predicted the suspension of the sale of controlling stakes in both GSM operators, known as MIC 1 and MIC 2, which are currently managed by, respectively, the Ministry of Telecommunications (after the management contract of Saudi/German firm Alfa expired recently) and MTC Touch Lebanon, the local subsidiary of Kuwait-based Zain Group. Kamal Shehadi, chairman of the TRA, confirmed that the international tender only requires the go-ahead from the Council of Ministers to proceed.