Zain Iraq's local holding firm appoints board ahead of 2014 IPO
* Al-Khatem Co to launch share sale in first half of 2014
* Al-Khatem appoints Bader al-Kharafi as managing director
* Kharafi Group is major shareholder in Kuwait's Zain
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The local holding company of Zain Iraq, the country's No.1 telecommunications operator by subscribers, appointed seven board members and a managing director on Monday, a step towards a mandatory initial public offering (IPO) expected in 2014.
Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwaiti operator Zain, and its two rival national mobile operators were required to float a quarter of their shares and list on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) as part of their 2007 licences, but all missed a 2011 deadline to do so.
Asiacell - 64 percent owned by Qatar's Ooredoo - listed on the ISX in February after selling $1.27 billion of shares in a public sale that was Iraq's largest.
Zain Iraq's IPO could be of similar size - it had a 50 percent share of the country's mobile subscribers at the end of 2012, compared with Asiacell's 36 percent, while its second-quarter revenue was $434 million. Asiacell's revenue for the same period was $487 million.
Zain Iraq was a foreign-domiciled company, which would prevent it from joining the ISX, so a local joint stock company Al-Khatem Company for Telecommunications was created to hold Zain Iraq's assets.
Al-Khatem - 76-percent owned by Kuwait's Zain - has now held its first annual meeting, electing Mohammed Charchafchi as chairman, Asaad al-Banwan as deputy chairman and Bader al-Kharafi as managing director, according to a Zain statement on Monday.
"(These) are preparatory steps in order to list Al-Khatem on the ISX, in accordance with the company's licence conditions," Wael Ghanayem, Zain Iraq chief financial officer, said in the statement.
Kharafi is the head of Kuwait's Kharafi group, which is a major shareholder in Zain and also holds stakes in several other Kuwaiti firms including National Industries Group and National Investment Co.
"Zain Iraq aims to fulfil its requirement to become a listed company on the ISX in the first half of 2014," Kharafi said in the statement.
Charchafchi will remain acting chief executive of Zain Iraq. Previous incumbent Emad Makiya quit in August 2012. (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Dinesh Nair and Mark Potter)