LibanPost embarks on new road to success
Lebanon Invest, which has replaced the Canadian SNC-Lavalin firm as a strategic investor in the Lebanon’s newly-privatized postal service for $12 million last month, announced that it expects the company to record its first positive results already in 2002, reported Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
The Local investment house, which is owned by Banque Audi, added that the LibanPost company plans to realize these profits by diversifying its services and penetrating into innovative fields of activity. "We want to become the one-stop-shop for mail delivery for both the private and public sector," LibanPost Chairman Nassib Husseini told Khaleej Times .
Thus far, despite having established a functional postal system, LibanPost has been unable to convince the local water, electricity or phone companies to send bills and receive payments through the mail. It did however launch a successful campaign encouraging the public to renew their passports by post. Husseini said LibanPost has handled some 15,000 passport applications since it introduced the service.
Under the new management, LibanPost plans to expand its retail network, modernize mail collection and sorting operations, install more mailboxes, refurbish points-of-sale and operate basic banking services, much like post office savings accounts available in some European countries.
SNC-Lavalin, the main investor in the Canadian consortium that signed a 12-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with the Lebanese government to overhaul the national post service, decided in April to pull out of the venture, having incurred losses valued millions of dollars. The second Canadian investor, Canada Post Systems Management, which charges fees to operate the postal service for LibanPost since 1998, will remain and work with the new investor.
Post and Telecommunications Minister Jean-Louis Qurdahi said at the time that "The old investor left the Lebanese market amicably, and the new investor entered by injecting new capital into this sector, on the best terms."
The amended agreement, signed in mid-September with Lebanon Invest, reinstates the government’s right to terminate the new contract, extends the BOT contract to 15 years and commits the operator to stay for at least five years of that period. It limits non-mail services to 35 percent of LibanPost’s operations. The new contract also amended the revenue-sharing structure to give the government an increasing share of receipts based on LibanPost’s returns, according to the Lebanon Invest Weekly Bulletin.
Two firms affiliated with Lebanon Invest will inject the $12-million investment. Mousahamat Holdings SAL will provide about four million dollars, while the French-incorporated Facteur Invest Holding firm will inject the rest.
The Lebanese is the only post sector in the Middle East, which is run by private firms. In the initial post-war reconstruction phase, LibanPost spent $20 million on establishing the national mail service. It currently handles some two million items a month, and claims that 90 percent of mail arrives within one day to and from Beirut and other major cities in Lebanon. — (menareport.com)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)