Alfa now under MoT management; Touch to follow by end of month

8 Sep 2020

One of Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile network operators, Alfa (registered as Mobile Interim Company 1 [MIC 1]), is now officially managed by the government via the Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) in accordance with the Lebanese Cabinet’s resolution of 5 May 2020, reports news site The961.com. Alfa’s existing Egyptian private sector management team confirmed the changeover. Telecoms minister Talal Hawat noted that the handover was supposed to take place earlier this year but was delayed, firstly due to the COVID-19 crisis and then as a result of the devastating Beirut Port explosion.

The management of rival cellco Touch Lebanon (MIC 2) – currently managed by Kuwait’s Zain Group – is expected to be transferred to the MoT by the end of September, with Hawat stating yesterday (7 September 2020): ‘With the management of Alfa fully returning to the custody of the telecommunications ministry, we have accomplished an important step that will be entirely complete with the return of the management of Touch, which is expected very soon.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Egyptian-owned Orascom Telecom Lebanon (OTL) has managed Alfa (MIC 1) on behalf of its sole owner the Lebanese government since February 2009. Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Orascom Investment Holding (OIH, formerly Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding) is the owner of OTL. Touch Lebanon (MIC 2) is also wholly state-owned, but since June 2004 has been managed on behalf of the government by Zain Group, which owns 100% of the local management firm Mobile Telecommunications Company Lebanon.

OIH also confirmed the resignation of Alfa’s current board of directors and ‘the election of a new board of directors named by the Ministry of Telecommunications’.