Lebanon Terminates Contracts with Local Mobile Firms
Lebanon's Higher Council for Privatization announced Tuesday its decision to "amicably" terminate the build-operate-transfer contracts with the nation's two cellular phone companies by the end of the year, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
The decision followed two marathon meetings of the council, chaired by Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, on Monday and Tuesday.
"The companies will be notified" on Wednesday, said a statement released by the council, which comprises senior cabinet members, including Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, Economy Minister Basil Fuleihan and Telecommunications Minister Jean-Louis Qordahi.
There was no immediate reaction from either of the mobile service providers, Cellis and LibanCell, but sources close to the council explained told the paper that both had been notified in advance that the termination of the 10-year contracts, signed in 1994, was a "strong possibility."
Ghazi Youssef, the council's secretary-general, said the decision "is the first step toward the privatization of Lebanon's entire telecommunications sector. The government will now put out to international tender licenses for cellular services before the end of the year."
Both Cellis and LibanCell will be able to bid, the source said.
Hariri said the services currently provided by Cellis and LibanCell would not be interrupted and that it would take 180 days for the termination to take effect under Article E-22 of the original contracts.
The council's statement said that an "international bank or financial institution" will be contracted to assess the companies' losses and determine the amount of compensation Cellis and LibanCell are entitled to, according to the paper - Albawaba.com
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