Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ:US) is helping to set up a trading system for the Erbil Stock Exchange, which will be the stock exchange of the autonomous region of Iraq, Kurdistan. The region is planning for starting the operations of the stock exchange from the month of June of the next year as stated by the chairman of the company.
At least 25 companies will list shares on the Erbil exchange by the end of 2014, Abdullah Ahmed Abdulrahman said today in an interview in the northern Iraqi city. Trading will begin with an estimated volume valued at 5 billion dinars ($4.3 million) to 6 billion dinars, he said.
“We aim to open a gateway for foreign investors in Iraq,” he said. The Kurdish enclave’s first stock exchange has also signed an 18-month advisory contract with New Jersey-based consultant Louis Berger Group Inc., he said.
The stock exchange of Kurdistan or ESX (Erbil Stock Exchange) will compete head to head with another stock exchange of Iraq, run by the central Iraqi government of Baghdad. ISX or Iraq Stock Exchange has shown high boost in recent times by registering one of the largest telecom network of the country, Asiacell. Discussions with other two large telecom companies are going on and soon it has been anticipated that they will join ISX. Asiacell’s stock offering was fully subscribed and doubled the Baghdad stock market’s value from $4.66 billion last year, Taha Ahmed Abdul-Salam al-Rubaye, the Iraq exchange’s chief executive officer, said at the time. Nasdaq OMX is also helping to upgrade the Iraq exchange’s trading system, he said on June 28.
The developments come days after Qatar Holding LLC, a unit of the Middle Eastern emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, bought NYSE Euronext (NYX:US)’s 12 percent stake in the Qatar Exchange to become its sole owner. NYSE Euronext assisted with changes at the Qatar Exchange that almost doubled the bourse’s market capitalization and contributed to MSCI Inc. (MSCI:US)’s decision in June to upgrade the exchange to emerging market status from frontier, according to an Oct. 1 statement from Qatar Holding and NYSE Euronext.
Energy agreements, revenue sharing and land rights are the three major pillars of of dispute between the northern regional government of Iraq, Kurdistan and the central government of Iraq, Baghdad. The Kurds estimate their crude reserves at 45 billion barrels, enough to meet U.S. demand for almost seven years, and are building an export pipeline for oil as a step toward economic self-sufficiency.
Iraq, with 150 billion barrels in reserves excluding Kurdish deposits, ranks as the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.