Iraq's $1.4 billion Asiacell share offer sold out: exchange

BAGHDAD Sun Feb 3, 2013 8:46am EST

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A $1.35 billion sale of shares in Iraqi mobile telephone firm Asiacell TASC.ISX, the country's first major public offer of equity since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, was fully subscribed, the stock exchange said on Sunday.

Taha Abdulsalam, chief executive of the Iraq Stock Exchange, told Reuters that orders had been received for all 67.5 billion shares on offer, comprising 25 percent of the company's share capital.

The offer was one of the Middle East's biggest share offers in the last few years, and it was seen as a test of investor confidence in Iraq's economy as it recovers from years of war, political instability and financial sanctions.

Some major local shareholders in Asiacell are reducing their holdings through the offer.

By contrast, Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA, which owns 53.9 percent, was expected to use the offer to increase its stake, Layth Sulaiman, head of the exchange's board of governors, said last week.

The shares were sold at 22 Iraqi dinars ($0.02) each. Public trade in the shares had been expected to start on the exchange on Sunday, but it will begin on Monday, exchange officials said.

They said they could not immediately reveal details such as the total size of orders received for Asiacell shares, or how many of the shares had gone to foreign and local investors.

(Reporting by Aseel Kami, Writing by Matt Smith, Editing by Andrew Torchia and Erica Billingham)

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