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Morgan Stanley Said No Longer Bookrunner of Asiacell IPO

Morgan Stanley (MS) is no longer a bookrunner for the initial public offering of Asiacell, the Iraqi telecom operator majority-owned by Qatar Telecom QSC (QTEL), said three people with knowledge of the discussions.

While Morgan Stanley is still an adviser on the deal, the U.S. bank will not manage Asiacell’s share sale because it doesn’t have a client base inside Iraq, where most of the demand for this IPO is expected, said one of the people.

New York-based Morgan Stanley was originally hired with HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) as managers for the IPO, which may happen as early as next month, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The IPO of Asiacell, Iraq’s first mobile phone operator, could raise as much as $1 billion with the sale of a 25 percent stake in the company, making it the biggest ever in the country, the people said.

Rabee Securities, a Baghdad-based brokerage, is also managing Asiacell’s IPO.

Doubled Stake

Doha-based Qatar Telecom, known as Qtel, agreed this year to double its stake in the Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell to 60 percent for $1.47 billion. Qtel, which owns stakes in companies from Tunisia to Indonesia, has sought to grow outside its home market, where it faces rising competition from Vodafone Qatar. (VFQS)

A London-based official at Morgan Stanley declined to comment, as did a Qtel spokesman.

The IPO, if successful, could double the market capitalization of the Iraq Stock Exchange, which is about $4 billion, according to the Baghdad-based bourse.

Asiacell has about 9.5 million users, Qtel’s Chief Executive Officer Nasser Marafih said in June.

Zain Iraq, Asiacell’s main competitor and a unit of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunication Co. (ZAIN), plans to go public in Iraq this year as well, the parent company’s former chief executive officer, Emad Makiya, said in April. Makiya stepped down last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zijing Wu in London at zwu17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jacqueline Simmons at jackiem@bloomberg.net

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