Asiacell, Qatar Telecom’s Iraqi mobile subsidiary, has been admitted to the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) and trading of its shares could begin as soon as next month, The National newspaper reports. ISX chief executive Taha Abdulsalam commented: ‘We are just waiting for a few technical things to happen before we can start trading in Asiacell. We need to contact the communications regulator and figure out if they have a specific plan on how they want to go about the initial public offering (IPO), agree on a date for the first day of trading, publish financial statements on our website and other filings … and see if any rules or regulations need to be fine-tuned for the specifics for trading on telecommunications companies’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, under the terms of their operating licences, Iraq’s three national mobile operators were required to float their capital on the ISX within four years, as the bourse was not ready to handle the listings when the concessions were handed out in 2007. In March 2009 the government reiterated the operators’ obligation to list around 25% of their shares, in a move that could triple the value of shares on the stock market to over USD6 billion. With progress proving to be painfully slow, in June this year Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) revealed that it would fine Asiacell USD8,500 a day, applied retroactively from 1 September 2011 for its failure to list; rival mobile operators Korek Telecom and Zain Iraq were also incurred financial penalties. Asiacell finally won approval to list on the ISX from the stock market regulator last month.