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Mobile Operators Appeal Iraq Fines on Shares Regulation

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Three mobile companies appealed fines imposed by the Iraqi telecommunications regulator this year for failing to list 25 percent of their shares on the Iraq Stock Exchange.

Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Co., Korek Telecom, part-owned by France Telecom SA, and Asiacell, an affiliate of Qatar Telecom QSC, have appealed the decision, Ahmed al-Omari, a member of the Communications and Media Commission’s trustee board, said in a phone interview from Baghdad.

Fines against all three companies were backdated to Aug. 31, 2011, with Zain ordered to pay 15 million dinars ($12,875) a day, al-Omari said in July. Asiacell and Korek had to pay 10 million dinars and 3 million dinars, respectively.

“It is Zain Iraq’s position that we should not be penalized as this delay was out of our control due to some matters beyond our control,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement. “Furthermore, the company already communicated with the concerned Iraqi government authorities explaining the company’s position and asking for the rescinding of the penalty decision.”

Korek Telecom’s Chief Executive Officer Ghada Gebara confirmed his company has appealed the ruling.

“We made an initial appeal against the ruling, the process of ruling will take its path in accordance with the Iraqi laws,” Gebara said by phone today from Erbil, a city in northern Iraq. “The ruling will be on our side, 100 percent.”

Asiacell Chief Executive Officer Diar Ahmed said by phone that his company had paid the fine before appealing against the ruling.

Iraq has 23 million mobile-phone subscribers, according to the Communications and Media Commission.

To contact the reporters on this story: Khalid Al-Ansary in Dubai at kalansary@bloomberg.net; Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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