Lebanon cuts expectations of mobile privatisation proceeds in half

4 Jun 2010

Lebanon’s finance minister Raya Haffar el-Hassan has said that she expects the government to earn no more than USD3 billion from its much delayed plan to sell the country’s two mobile network operators. The reduced expectations for the privatisation of Alfa and MTC Touch Lebanon – currently managed by Orascom Telecom and Zain Group respectively – are based on the falling prices of mobile licences worldwide over recent years, during which time Lebanon repeatedly failed to carry out a public sale, partly due to political conflict. Haffar told Dow Jones Newswires, ‘Telecom licences are no longer as attractive as they were two or three years ago … At one time we were expecting to raise between USD6 billion and USD7 billion from the sale of two telecom licences. Now we’re thinking that with current conditions probably the sale of these licences will not bring that much, and probably not even half.’ Lebanon, which has a large public debt burden, needs to raise funds to improve roads and ease a chronic power shortage.

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