Asiacell completes $1.24 billion listing

Asiacell completes $1.24 billion listing

Iraqi operator Asiacell has completed its mandatory listing, raising $1.24 billion in the Middle East’s biggest share offering since 2008.

The 25% stake attracted significant international interest with a split of 70% foreign investors to 30% Iraqi investors.

Orders were received for all 67.5 billion shares, sold at $0.02 each.

Shwan Ibrahim Taha of Baghdad-based Rabee Securities, the distributor and selling agent for the deal, told the Financial Times that his firm had to manually enter every transaction into the stock market systems to complete the offering.

Faruk Group Holding, owner of approximately 40% of Asiacell’s shares, is believed to be the main seller, and will receive the proceeds.

Qatar’s Qtel is the main buyer, and increased its stake in Asiacell to 64% through the listing. The carrier reached an agreement to double its holding in the operator in June last year.

The offering nearly doubled the size of the Iraqi stock market overnight.

Asiacell’s rivals Zain Iraq and Korek Telecom must also perform their own listings as part of their licence agreements, although analysts believe they may take some time to do so.

Iraq is one of the Middle East’s least developed telecoms markets with wireless penetration standing at 83.1% in September 2012, according to research firm TeleGeography.

The country’s fixed infrastructure is limited with only 1% penetration for household broadband and 26.4% PSTN penetration.

Asiacell is the country’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers with 35.9% market share in September, market leader Zain Iraq had 49.5% and third place Korek Telecom had 14.6% during the same period.

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