Iraqi telco IPOs unlikely before mid-2012
Dubai, October 6, 2011
Iraq's three mobile operators are unlikely to conduct initial public offerings until the middle of next year and will not be penalised for missing an August 2011 deadline, the country's regulator said on Thursday.
Under the terms of their licences, Iraq's three operators Korek Telecom, Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait's Zain , and Asiacell, a unit of Qatar Telecommunications (Qtel), were meant to launch IPOs by the end of August.
But all three of them had missed the deadline saying the fledgling Iraqi bourse was ill prepared for these listings.
Iraq did not have a mobile phone industry under Saddam Hussein, but the sector has grown rapidly since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled the dictator, and is one of the few regional markets offering double-digit subscriber growth.
"To put these shares in the market, it takes time," Ahmed Alomary, Commissioner of Iraq's Communications and Media Commission, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.
Iraq's bourse has a market capitalisation of around $4 billion, and average daily trading in May was less than $2 million, prompting analysts to question whether the market is ready for the telecoms IPOs.
The three operators must first change from private companies to shareholding companies, a process that takes at least a month.
"One of the operators has provided a timeframe for the whole transition - it will be 260 (working) days," said Alomary, without naming the firm.
Alomary said the operators must still sell 25 per cent of their shares via an IPO.
Korek Telecom, in which France Telecom and Kuwait's Agility own stakes, is unlikely to launch an initial public offering this year, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters