Lebanese billionaire Najib Mikati was recently tasked with forming and heading Lebanon’s next government. Not only is Mikati one of the most prominent Lebanese politicians but also one of the wealthiest people in the Middle East.
The 65-year-old businessman is the co-founder of the M1 Group investment firm, which has a diverse array of investments in various sectors around the world.
He co-founded the company with his billionaire brother Taha in 2007, around two decades after the duo launched their first major business operations in Lebanon.
Since its establishment in the early ’80s, Investcom, the Mikati Brothers’ flagship company, expanded its scope of investments, initially limited to the construction sector, to envelop the field of telecommunications.
During the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the brothers sold satellite phones through Investcom before expanding to Africa and building cellphone towers in multiple countries that include Ghana, Benin, and Liberia.
Investcom became one of the largest companies in the Middle East when it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, with a market capitalization of $3.3 billion, as of October 6th, 2005.
In addition to stakes at South Africa-based firm MTN, M1 Group now holds stakes in Bank Audi and has real estate investments in New York, London, and Monaco. M1 Real Estate, part of M1 Group, also has offices in Beirut and Dubai.
Additionally, the company has investments in commercial jets and airlines, supermarkets, energy, financial technology, as well as clothing brands such as Pepe Jeans (London), Façonnable (Nice, France), and Hackett London.
The Mikati family has also invested in the media sector in Lebanon. They own 99.9% of Lebanon24 and 4% of LBCI, according to the Media Ownership Monitor in a report contributed to by Samir Kassir Foundation and Reporters Without Borders.
According to a U.N. report published in 2019, M1 Group also had business interests with the military of Myanmar through Mytel, a military joint venture and one of the four major telecommunication companies operating in the country.
The Mikati Brothers’ company was a shareholder in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Green Towers (IGT), the largest independent tower company in the country until IGT was sold in 2021.
This prompted the London-based Burma Campaign UK NGO to include M1 Group on its “dirty list” for the fact that the tower company worked for Mytel.
In July 2021, M1 Group bought Myanmar’s Telenor Group mobile operator, a few months after a coup d’état took place in the country and resulted in a crackdown on the telecommunications sector by the military.