Zain Iraq, the mobile phone company from Iraq has the plans for going ahead with a long-delayed stock market listing in Baghdad by early 2013 at the latest, its chief operating officer said on Tuesday.
Iraqi mobile phone company Zain Iraq plans to go ahead with a long-delayed stock market listing in Baghdad by early 2013 at the latest, its chief operating officer said on Tuesday. Zain Iraq, owned by Kuwaiti telecom group Zain, still needs to convert to a joint stock company in preparation for the float, Hisham Akbar, Zain deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.
Mr. Akbar remarked, "We are hoping for the last quarter of this year (to IPO), but the joint (stock) company got delayed." Zain Iraq and rival operators Asiacell - a unit of Qatar Telecom (Qtel) - and France Telecom affiliate Korek have to sell a quarter of their shares to investors via an initial public offering to meet conditions for their mobile phone licences in Iraq. But all have missed a deadline of August 2011 for the IPOs and been fined for doing so.
Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq did not have a mobile phone market. After decades of war, due to US led invasion in Iraq, stability is coming in the Iraqi market. From 2003, significantly, the communication sector in Iraq started developing. As the communication sector and technology started booming in Iraq, mobile phone industry received a significant leap.
Mobile phone industry is now the fastest growing industry of the country, recorded after the main business of the country – oil exploration business. The requirement for the phone companies to list on the Iraqi stock market are part of efforts to create a more diversified economy and move away from state-run companies.
But preparations for the listings have proved chaotic and there has been uncertainty over whether the share sales would be open to foreign investors or if dual listings were possible. Also the Iraq Stock Exchange, which has a combined market capitalization of about $3.4 billion and trades around $3 million daily, is small relative to the size of the phone companies.