Report: New Lebanese PM maintains strong business interests in Syria
Prominent businessman Najib Mikati will become the next prime minister of Lebanon. The 56 year old politician previously served as prime minister for a short period from April 19, 2005 to July 19, 2005. The estimated wealth of this tycoon, who is backed by a coalition led by Hizbullah, is put at about US$ 2.5 billion.
Najib Mikati began his business career in the 1980s along with his brother Taha. The two brothers founded in 1982 a telecom services group called "Investcom", which developed into one of the largest Arab telecom companies.
In July 2006 Investcom merged with MTN to become part of a strong global company active in the mobile communications sector in Africa and the Middle East. MTN paid some US$5.5 billion for Investcom shares. Following the merger deal, Mikati group owns 10% of MTN.
According to the Arab financial site, Nuqudy.com, one factor that likely helped paving Mikati's way back to the prime minister office was his close economic relations with the neighboring country of Syria. According to the report, Mikati is involved in the ownership of mobile phone operator MTN Syria, which was formerly called Areeba Syria. There are reports that the ownership of the mobile phone companies in Syria is connected to the ruling Assad family.