x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Asiacell shares trading doubles Iraq bourse's market capitalisation

The market capitalisation of the Baghdad bourse doubled last month to reach US$9.2 billion, boosted by Asiacell share trading, which started in early February.

The market capitalisation of the Baghdad bourse doubled last month to reach US$9.2 billion, boosted by Asiacell share trading, which started in early February.

As the first major flotation since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Asiacell's share offer was seen as a test of confidence in the Opec member's economy, which is recovering from years of war and economic sanctions.

The Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), which started operating in 2004, is one of the few examples of private sector success in a country still largely dominated by public companies.

The bourse's market capitalisation by end of January was $4.6bn, Taha Abdulsalam, the ISX chief executive, said.

"It was my expectation that the market capitalisation would be doubled and it was," Mr Abdulsalam said.

The number of shares traded during February, including Asiacell's, was around 83bn, compared with 69bn at the end of January. The volume of shares changing hands was 217bn Iraqi dinars, up from 99bn Iraqi dinars.

Asiacell alone had 5bn shares traded during the 20 trading sessions in February, with a volume of 101bn Iraqi dinars.

"To trade around 5bn shares by a price of 22 dinars, I believe it is the biggest trading volume currently in the market," said Mr Abdulsalam. "The success of Asiacell shares trading … has given confidence for Iraqi and non-Iraqi investors that the Iraqi market could handle that and could handle more than that".

Asiacell's share value jumped the maximum 10 per cent at the beginning of its first day of trading to 24.2 dinars but closed on the last day of trading at 22.01 dinars.

Qatar Telecom raised its stake in the company to 64 per cent in a vote of confidence in a country recovering from years of war and economic sanctions.

 

* Reuters