Asiacell waits for regulatory bodies over company flotation

27 June 2011

Mobile operator to launch IPO once Iraq bourse strategy in place

Qatar Telecom-owned Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell is awaiting a response from the regulatory bodies before it launches its mandatory initial public offering (IPO).

“We have shown our commitment to abide by the contract articles, but there are some articles in the Companies Registrar law and other Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) regulations that conflict with the licensing agreements,” says Diar Ahmed, chief executive officer of Asiacell.

There will be workshops involving international banks to help the industry regulator Communications and Media Commission (CMC) and the ISX to put the right process in order. HSBC subsidiary, Dar Es Salaam, is advising Asiacell on the IPO.

“We are waiting for the regulatory bodies and the government to decide how they will regulate the floating process and the final direction on this,” says Ahmed.

All three of the mobile operators in the country, Kuwait’s Zain Iraq and France Telecom’s Korek are required to float no less than 25 per cent of its shares by August this year. Each secured a 15-year licence in 2007 for $1.25bn.

As yet, no decisions have been made on whether all three will happen at the same time. Zain Iraq has announced that it is ready to float 20 per cent and expects to raise $80m. Korek Telecom has not made any announcements on how much it is planning to float.

In a statement published on the ISX website, Taha Abdulsalam al-Rubaye, chief executive officer of the ISX, accused the mobile operators of harming investors and citizens who wish to invest in their companies if they delay their listing.

“The mobile operators have not taken the necessary steps to change their status from limited liability company to joint stock company,” he said.

He dispelled concerns of the ISX being unable to cope with large-volume transactions. “There is enough liquidity in Iraq and a good interest by international funds to make a listing of any size a success, the liquidity of the market today is only limited by the availability of companies on the exchange,” he said.

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