Iraq Stock Exchange Seeks Broader Investor, Add Liquidity

The Iraqi bourse is asking local companies to list shares and depositary receipts in London and New York to attract investors and increase volumes, the bourse’s chief executive officer said.

“We are encouraging our companies” to list on the London Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq Stock Market “to allow shareholders to turn some of their shares into global depositary receipts or American depositary receipts,” CEO Taha Ahmed Abdul Salam al-Rubaye said in Baghdad yesterday. Exchange officials held meetings with Bank of New York Mellon regarding ADRs, he said.

The Iraq Stock Exchange General Index has tumbled 21 percent since reaching the highest in at least two years on Oct. 4. It was little changed today at 116.20. There are 86 listed companies on the exchange, from industries including banking, agriculture, tourism and insurance. Financial companies made up 70 percent of the bourse’s $4 billion market value at the end of 2011, al-Rubaye said.

Economic growth in Iraq will accelerate to 11.1 percent this year, the fastest since at least 2006, International Monetary Fund forecasts show. The nation will also post its second consecutive current account surplus at 9.1 percent of GDP in 2012, after deficits in 2009 and 2010, according to the Washington-based fund.

The nation, home to about 32 million people according to World Bank estimates, has faced an escalation of violence and political clashes since the U.S. pulled out its remaining troops in December.

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