The initial public offering (IPO) held by Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell was fully subscribed before its closing date, the sale’s organiser has revealed. In an e-mail to Bloomberg News, Shwan Ibrahim Taha, chairman of Rabee Securities, confirmed: ‘The offering is now comfortably covered with a good mix of retail and institutional demand from within Iraq as well as institutional and high net worth demand from abroad’. Previously, questions had been raised over Asiacell’s ability to sell the entire 25% after two international banks, Morgan Stanley and HSBC, cancelled plans to help arrange the IPO. The double withdrawal left Baghdad-based broker Rabee Securities as the sole distributor and selling agent. However, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the share sale will raise approximately USD1.35 billion, the highest amount raised for an IPO in the Middle East and North Africa since Saudi Arabian Mining Co’s share sale more than four years ago.
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 Iraq Stock Exchange (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, but progress proved to be painfully slow, and in June 2012 Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) fined the incumbents for their failure to launch their respective IPOs in a timely fashion.