General manager of Zain’s Lebanese mobile network resigns in surprise move

Published May 24th, 2015 - 10:00 GMT

In a surprise move, the general manager of cellular operator touch Wassim Mansour submitted his resignation Friday, sources told The Daily Star.

“The Telecommunications Ministry was notified of Wassim’s decision today [Friday] and there was no clear explanation for this decision,” a source said.

Officials at touch declined to comment immediately but promised to send clarification soon.

The Kuwait-based firm Zain, which runs the network under the touch name, appointed Mansour to the post 18 months ago.

But it remains unclear whether the resignation was an internal matter or due to differences with the Telecommunications Ministry.

Touch is one of the two companies that operate Lebanon’s cellular networks in return for a fee.

According to the contract, all the revenues of the cellular networks are directly channeled to the Telecommunications Ministry, which in turn sends a large part of the proceeds to the Finance Ministry.

Touch has over 2 million mobile subscribers in Lebanon.

In April 2015, the Cabinet extended the contract with the two mobile firms until the end of the year. It also approved the specifications book for the bidding of contracts currently held by Alfa and touch.

Once the contracts with the companies expire, Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb will hold another bidding process to select the best firms to run the networks.’

Harb has on many occasions threatened to revoke the contracts with the current firms if services do not improve. The minister claims that neither touch nor Alfa are providing adequate products or services to the customers.

He even warned that his ministry’s staff could operate the networks for a certain period if the government does not receive good offers from the bidding companies.

The mobile firms generate over $1.2 billion in revenues for the state each year, making the sector the third-largest income earner after the VAT and customs.

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