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Asiacell considers roadshow with IPO pick-up slow

Asiacell is considering a roadshow for share offering due to high demand particularly in the Gulf.

The Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell is considering a possible roadshow for its public share offering in the GCC.

Asiacell's lead manager for the offering, Rabee Securities, based in Baghdad, is currently working on a prospectus that will be distributed among international investors. "We are seeing a lot of interest, especially in the Gulf because of the better awareness of the process of IPOs and offerings.

"There is also an appetite for niche investments," said Diar Ahmed, the chief executive of Asiacell. "The Iraqi economy is growing and the telecoms sector is part of that."

Iraq's central bank expects its economy to grow by 9 per cent this year.

According to Mr Ahmed, international interest outweighs local interest in the offering.

Iraqi law does not require a prospectus for domestic offerings, but Asiacell produced an offering booklet in Arabic.

International institutions and investors can participate only if they have an account with one of the 47 brokers in Iraq.

Despite the interest and high levels of inquiries, pick-up has been slow.

"People are still unsure of the process of subscription, they are asking whether they need bank accounts. We set up a customer care line especially for it and we are receiving 20,000 to 25,000 calls every day," said Mr Ahmed.

Asiacell, which is 54 per cent owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel), is floating 67.5 billion shares, about 25 per cent of the company's share capital with a fixed offer price of 22 Iraqi dinars per share. The company is hoping to raise almost US$1.3bn (Dh4.77bn) in the domestic offering, but there are still doubts whether there is enough liquidity on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) to shore up $1.3bn of shares.

The subscription period will end on February 2 and Asiacell plans to list its shares on the ISX on February 3.



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