Vodafone ends talks over Lebanese contracts

The UK’s Vodafone Group has dropped out of the potential acquisition of a management contract to run one of Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile operators, the company has said.

Lebanon has been searching for two long-term agreements for the management of its two mobile players – Touch and Alfa – and Vodafone’s exit is expected to be a knockback to the country’s telecoms sector.

Kuwaiti operator Zain’s contract to manage Touch, and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT)’s contract to manage Alfa, both expired in 2013. The firms have been running on short-term rolling contracts in the meantime.

The ministry had initially planned to launch tenders for three-to-five year contracts in April 2013, but this was delayed as Lebanon struggled to form a cohesive government.

Lebanon invited bidders for the contracts earlier this year, with Vodafone, Orange, Zain, Turkcell, Malaysia’s Maxis and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom all making offers, but Vodafone has now dropped out.

“Vodafone has decided not to pursue the opportunity in Lebanon, but we have no further comment to make beyond this,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

In July this year, Lebanese telecoms minister Boutrous Harb, said that he expects to have the country “totally connected” by 2020.


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