Asiacell Jumps in Baghdad After Biggest Mideast IPO Since 2008

Asiacell Communications PJSC (TASC) jumped as much as 10 percent on the first day of trading after Qatar Telecom QSC’s Iraqi unit completed the biggest Middle East initial share sale since 2008.

The shares rose to 24.2 dinars before paring gains to 23.25 dinars at the close on the Iraq Stock Exchange in Baghdad. A total of 32.9 million shares were traded, according to data from the bourse.

Asiacell raised 1.49 trillion dinars ($1.3 billion), the most for an IPO in Iraq and the largest in the Middle East and North Africa since Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (MAADEN)’s share sale more than four years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Qatar Telecom raised its stake in Asiacell to 64.06 percent from 60 percent, the company said in a statement today.

“We believe that the Iraqi market is about to enter a period of rapid broadband and data growth,” Qatar Telecom’s Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani said in the statement. Asiacell plans 3G and 4G services in Iraq, Managing Director Faruk Rasool told Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV today.

The share sale helped double the market value of the bourse from $4.66 billion last year, Taha Ahmed Abdul-Salam al-Rubaye, the bourse chief executive officer, said last month. Iraq’s two other main mobile-phone operators, Zain Iraq (ZAIN), a unit of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Co., and Korek Telecom, part-owned by France Telecom SA (FTE) -- must also sell 25 percent of their shares on the bourse to comply with their licenses.

Foreign Investors

“There is demand for Asiacell shares, and the quantity that was sold is considered good, knowing that this is the first session,” Muhammad Mahdi Salih, a broker for al-Abrar brokerage company, said in an interview in Baghdad.

Foreign investors bought 70 percent of the offering and Iraqis the remainder, Rabee Securities, the sole organizer of the IPO, said in a statement yesterday. The IPO, which closed Feb. 2, was fully subscribed, as the company sold all 67.5 billion shares at a minimum of 22 dinars each.

Sulaymaniyah-based Asiacell obtained a 15-year mobile telecommunications license in 2007 and had 43 percent market share by revenue at the end of September, with 9.9 million individual and corporate subscribers.

The value of Asiacell shares, the only telecommunications company on the Baghdad bourse, is 49.9 percent of the exchange’s total market capitalization, according to Rabee Securities.

To contact the reporters on this story: Khalid Al-Ansary in Baghdad at kalansary@bloomberg.net; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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