STC remains interested in Lebanon

30 Mar 2012

The CEO of international operations at Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Ghassan Hasbani, said yesterday that his company still had a keen interest in bidding for a mobile licence in Lebanon, if the country ever gets around to privatising the cellular sector, currently a duopoly of two state-run firms managed by foreign operators. Hasbani, speaking to the Daily Star on the sidelines of the ArabNet Digital Summit in Beirut, said that Lebanon’s telecoms sector is ‘ripe for investments’, and ‘a very attractive market with a great potential’, but he noted that allowing a new foreign entrant rests on a decision by the Lebanese government. ‘If the government’s telecoms sector policy will allow for such an opportunity, we would very seriously consider entering the market,’ he added. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the long-delayed privatisation plan for cellcos Alfa and MTC Touch, managed by Orascom and Zain, alongside the auction of additional mobile licences, is dependent on the wider restructuring of the telecoms sector, including the proposed corporatisation of state-controlled telco Ogero, for which political opinion has always been divided. There has been no recent clear-cut indication of a political consensus towards implementing the frozen reform programme since the forming of a new cabinet in June 2011. Furthermore, that month the government suspended the decision-making powers of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which had previously mapped out the telecoms reform roadmap.