Asiacell, the Iraqi mobile operator owned by Qatar Telecom, has announced that it has obtained approval from the country’s Securities Commission and listed its shares on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX). Asiacell’s transformation into a private joint stock company makes it the first mobile operator in the country to make the long-awaited switch, after experiencing what spokesman Faruk Mustafa Rasool termed ‘difficulties and obstacles’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, under the terms of their operating licences, Iraq’s three national mobile operators were required to float their capital on the ISX within four years, as the bourse was not ready to handle the listings when the concessions were handed out in 2007. In March 2009 the government reiterated the operators’ obligation to list around 25% of their shares, in a move that could triple the value of shares on the stock market to over USD6 billion. With progress proving to be painfully slow, in June this year Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) revealed that it would fine Asiacell USD8,500 a day, applied retroactively from 1 September 2011 for its failure to list; rival mobile operators Korek Telecom and Zain Iraq were also incurred financial penalties.