The three Iraqi telecoms operators should be ready to list on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) within the next four months, according to the bourse’s chief executive officer, Taha Abdul Salam.

Iraq’s three mobile operators missed their 31 August deadline to list on the bourse, imposed in 2007 as part of their licence agreement. Abdul Salam now says the initial public offerings [IPOs] are moving forward, and will provide a much-needed boost to the economy.

“The first company that will IPO will encourage the whole economy,” says Abdul Salam. “Our businesses are sleeping. If they see that the telecoms IPOs are successful, many groups and small to medium enterprises will be encouraged to list.”

The telecoms companies cited lack of awareness, the market not being ready for the listings and lack of organisation at the exchange and internally for their failure to list by the 31 August deadline. Industry regulator the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has not set a new deadline for the operators and has backtracked on its decision to fine the operators.

“The time for IPO is approaching and we are currently undergoing the valuation process,” said Diar Ahmed, chief executive officer of Asiacell, while speaking at the Rabee Securities capital markets conference in Irbil, Iraq. According to Abdul Salam, Asiacell will probably be the first to list, but Ahmed refused to comment on the timing of the IPO.

Although the head of the ISX is confident that things are moving forward with the IPOs of the telecoms firms, Mohammed Tawfik Allawi, Iraq’s communications minister has said that they are unlikely to list before mid-2012.