Lebanon’s government yesterday authorised the telecoms minister Nicolas Sehnaoui to prepare a tender for bids to manage state-owned mobile network operators, Touch and Alfa, under contracts of up to five years. The cabinet also permitted the extension of the existing annually-renewable management contracts for Touch and Alfa with their respective operators Zain and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT) until the end of June. Sehnaoui has been given a maximum of two months to prepare all terms of the tender for presentation to the Cabinet for approval before the ministry issues the invitation for bidders, reports Zawya.com. The process will be open to international telecommunications firms in addition to the two existing operators, and Sehnaoui is proposing to set the new contracts for five years and to eventually create a government-backed company to manage the telecoms sector, which would initially float 3% of its shares on the Beirut bourse.
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