Cabinet agrees transfer terms for Lebanon's mobile networks

29 November 2002

Lebanon's cabinet on 28 November approved a plan to transfer ownership of its two mobile phone networks to the state ahead of privatisation planned for early next year. The sell-off has been at an impasse for months. Ownership will be transferred from existing operators Cellis, a subsidiary of France Telecom, and Libancell. The two companies were awarded 10-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts in 1994, which were then cancelled in June 2001. They have been in dispute with the government over compensation due.

Telecoms privatisation is an important part of the governments efforts to cut its huge debt. In October the cabinet agreed on the terms for the auction of two 20-year licences to manage the networks, on a revenue-sharing basis for 10 years. Telecoms are one of Lebanon's most attractive state assets because of the country's high subscription and usage rates (MEED 16:8:02). Each network's information system processes more than 3 million calls on an average day.

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