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Asiacell shares sold on Iraq bourse in major float

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 3, 2013 at 8:36 am •  Published: February 3, 2013

The government-controlled oil sector dominates the Iraqi economy, dwarfing a small private sector and capital market. Al-Rubaye said he hopes the Asiacell offer is a sign of change.

Geoffrey Batt, a New York-based fund manager who has been investing on the Baghdad exchange since 2008, said that "Asiacell is demonstrable evidence that Iraq does in fact have a viable capital market."

"It indicates that this is a market capable of attracting significant investment from local and foreign sources," he said.

Asiacell is one of three major Iraqi telecom companies, along with Zain Iraq, part of Kuwait's Zain, and Korek, an affiliate of France Telecom. The Gulf state of Qatar's government-backed Qatar Telecom has a majority stake in Asiacell.

The three companies were required to list shares on the stock exchange as a condition of their 15-year operating licenses, which cost $1.25 billion when they were acquired in 2007.

All three missed a deadline in August 2011 to offer shares to the public.