Iraq’s mobile operator Asiacell has raised $1.24bn on the Iraqi Stock Exchange, marking the largest share offering to date in Iraq.

It is the biggest equity offering in the Middle East since 2008, when Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) sold its shares.

The initial public offering (IPO) suggests investor confidence in Iraq is starting to be restored.

The Asiacell shares were priced at ID22 ($0.019) a share and the final offering represented 25 per cent of its share capital. Following the flotation, the closing price for Asiacell shares was ID23.250 with 32 million shares traded. This represents a 5.6 per cent increase on the first day of trading.

Foreign investors bought most of the shares, with Qatar’s Qtel thought to be one of the biggest buyers.

All telecom companies in Iraq are required to offer 25 per cent of their shares under the terms of their operating licences. It is expected that Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of the Kuwaiti company, will be the next firm to make an offering.