Mobile network privatisation decision by year-end, says minister

1 Feb 2010

Lebanon’s government will form a new plan for the much-delayed privatisation of its two state-run mobile phone networks by the end of this year, telecoms minister Charbel Nahas told Bloomberg in an interview. ‘We will decide the pattern or forms of private investment in the telecommunications industry by the end of the year… The process of bringing in investors… can be an IPO or a mix that includes a strategic partner,’ the minister said. The two GSM-based network operators, MTC Touch Lebanon and Alfa are managed by private operators Zain Group and Orascom Telecom, respectively, under one-year contracts that expire on 31 January 2010, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The sale of their assets had been expected to raise USD7 billion to pay state debts but several attempts to get an auction off the ground have been rendered impossible due to political factors, whilst a plan mooted last March to list the cellcos on the stock exchange came to nothing.

Lebanon, Alfa (MIC 1), Touch Lebanon (MIC 2)