Iraq’s Asiacell aims to raise $1.3 billion though share offer

Iraqi mobile-phone operator Asiacell aims to raise at least $1.27 billion when it offers a quarter of its shares on Baghdad’s stock exchange early next year.

A successful offer would be Iraq’s biggest so far and provide a confidence boost to foreign investors who remain uneasy about the risky operating environment.

Iraq’s operators were required to offer shares under the terms of their 15-year operating licences, but all three missed an August 2011 deadline to do so.

Iraqi mobile-phone operator Asiacell aims to raise at least $1.27 billion when it offers a quarter of its shares on Baghdad’s stock exchange early next year.

A successful offer would be Iraq’s biggest so far and provide a confidence boost to foreign investors who remain uneasy about the risky operating environment.

Iraq’s operators were required to offer shares under the terms of their 15-year operating licences, but all three missed an August 2011 deadline to do so.

Asiacell’s offer will see a number of founding shareholders offer 25% of its share capital to individual and institutional investors with trading accounts in Iraq.

A total of 67.5 billion shares will be on sale, each priced at IQD0.22, or just less than $0.02.

The initial public offering is to launch on January 3 2013 and close on February 2 2013.

“We’ve built a stable and growing business across Iraq and we’re delighted to be able to provide the chance for all Iraqis to participate in our future by taking a stake in Asiacell,” said Faruk Rasool, the managing director of Asiacell. “We’re confident in our future as Iraq’s mobile industry continues to grow and we look forward to welcoming a new set of investors in 2013.”

Asiacell (Sulaimaniyah, Iraq) is 53.9% owned by Qatar Telecom (Doha, Qatar) and competes against Zain Iraq (Baghdad, Iraq), owned by Kuwait’s Zain (Kuwait City, Kuwait), and France Telecom-backed Korek (Erbil, Iraq) in the Iraqi market.

With 9.9 million subscribers – the vast majority of whom use prepaid as opposed to contract services – the company claims a 43% share of revenues and says its network now covers 97% of Iraq’s population.

Last year, Asiacell reported revenues of IQD1.84 billion ($1.6 million).

It claims that its revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 22% between 2009 and 2011.