x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Asiacell to trade on ISX next month

Asiacell, Qatar Telecom's Iraqi mobile subsidiary, has been admitted to the Iraq Stock Exchange and trading of its shares could begin as soon as next month.

Asiacell, Qatar Telecom's Iraqi mobile subsidiary, has been admitted to the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) and trading of its shares could begin as soon as next month.

"We are just waiting for a few technical things to happen before we can start trading in Asiacell," said Taha Abdulsalam, the ISX chief executive.

"We need to contact the communications regulator and figure out if they have a specific plan on how they want to go about the IPO, agree on a date for the first day of trading, publish financial statements on our website and other filings ... and see if any rules or regulations need to be fine-tuned for the specifics for trading on telecommunications companies," he said.

Mobile phones were banned under Saddam Hussein's regime but the sector has boomed since he was deposed in 2003. The country's telecomms sector is the fastest-growing industry after oil.

Asiacell won approval to list from the stock market regulator last month.

Many fund managers have bought Iraqi equities in anticipation that public share sales of the country's three mobile operators, Asiacell, Zain Iraq and Korek, could boost valuations and trading activity and bring foreign interest to the country's small stock market.

Zain and Korek have still not listed, Mr Abdulsalam said.

ISX has 84 listed companies with a market capitalisation of about US$3.6 billion (Dh13.22bn).

Iraqi stocks have declined since the withdrawal of US troops from the country last December. The ISX General Index is down 3.1 per cent since the start of the year, at 118.75.

The Rabee Securities Iraqi Dinar Equity Index shows a 6 per cent decline since January, at 1,414.

Iraq's mobile companies are obliged to list on the ISX as a condition of their $1.25bn operating licences awarded in 2007.

Zain has incurred $4.7 million worth of fines for failing to list by August last year. The company is negotiating with the regulator.

halsayegh@thenational.ae