Iraq mobile firm debuts on Baghdad bourse

Iraq's second largest mobile operator debuted on the Baghdad bourse on Sunday, in the country's first major stock flotation and after pressure from the media regulator for it to be publicly listed.

Asiacell, majority-owned by Qatar Telecom, offered 67.503 billion shares, representing 25 percent of its total share capital, raising 1.485 trillion Iraqi dinars ($1.24 billion) overall, according to Baghdad-based Rabee Securities, which helped the firm list on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX).

Rabee said foreigners bought 70 percent of the float, and Iraqis the remaining 30 percent.

It pegged the company's market capitalisation at 5.94 trillion Iraqi dinars ($4.95 billion), equivalent to almost half of the entire market capitalisation of the ISX.

Asiacell said in a January 24 statement that "demand for its shares... is high amongst ordinary Iraqis and professional investors alike" and claimed at the time that its initial public offering was the biggest ever in Iraq, and the largest in the Middle East since 2008.

The firm and Iraq's two other mobile phone companies -- Kuwait's Zain and Korek, in which France Telecom and Kuwait's Agility Logistics have stakes -- were fined for failing to issue IPOs on the ISX, Zain said in July.

Asiacell is the second biggest cell phone firm in Iraq by subscribers, with 9.9 million, after Zain which says it has more than 12 million customers.