Bidding for Lebanon GSM licences to close today

Seven companies bidding for multi-billion dollar contracts to operate Lebanon's GSM networks have until the end of today to submit their offers.

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  January 7, 2004

Lebanon’s Higher Privatisation Council will today (Wednesday) receive bids for two 20-year licences to operate GSM mobile phone networks amid fears that offers for the contracts will not meet government expectations. Bidding will close at the end of the day and the cabinet will review offers from the seven companies competing for the licences during its Thursday session. The Government will be unlikely to accept less than US$1.6 billion for each licence. The seven local and international companies bidding are Libancell, Investcom Holding, Orange, OTE, Wataniya Telecom, Mobile Telecommunications Company and Detecon. The government of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is trying to come up with fresh revenues to reduce mounting public debt, which reached over US$32 billion at the end of 2003. It is hoping the privatisation of mobile phone networks would raise more than US$3 billion. The cellular industry earned more than US$524 million for Lebanon’s Finance Ministry between 2002 and 2003, compared to less than US$400 million in 2001. The net revenue of the cellular networks through September of this year was US$447 million.

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