BAGHDAD Jan 31 Qatar Telecom (Qtel)
will raise its 53.9 percent stake in subsidiary Asiacell as part
of the Iraqi firm's $1.35 billion share sale, the largest ever
stock listing on the Baghdad bourse, an exchange official said
Qtel's broad strategy has been to take greater control of
its foreign units; since last year it has spent $2.16 billion to
raise its holdings in Tunisiana and Kuwait's Wataniya
to 90 percent or more.
Muddying this approach has been Asiacell, Iraq's second
biggest telecommunications operator, which is offering a quarter
of its shares to the public as part of its licensing
The offer opened on Jan. 3 and aims to sell 67.5 billion
shares for at least 22 Iraqi dinars ($0.02) each. Asiacell is
due to list on the Iraq Securities Exchange on Sunday.
Some details of the share offer have not been disclosed and
it has been unclear whether all of Asiacell's current
shareholders are selling their shares, and if so how much.
Layth Sulaiman, head of the ISX board of governors, told
Reuters on Thursday that he understood Qtel would not reduce its
stake in Asiacell through the offer.
"According to the information I have, Qtel will not sell its
shares, it is a buyer," he said.
Qtel agreed in June on a $1.5 billion deal to raise its
stake in Asiacell to 60 percent from 30 percent, with the
remaining 6.1 percent pending Iraqi regulatory approval. It may
be using the public offer to reach the 60 percent level.
Demand from foreign investors for the Asiacell offer, which
has not yet been fully covered, has exceeded that from Iraqis,
Sulaiman said. Brokers can receive orders for the shares until
0630 GMT on Sunday.
"What is left is a little portion," Sulaiman added. "Up to
this moment, work is on going to enter orders to buy shares."
The share sale is technically not an initial public offer,
since Asiacell earlier completed a tiny, nominal IPO so that it
could convert to a joint stock company as required under Iraqi
law, officials said.
Since it is a secondary offer, local Iraqi shareholders will
sell some of their shares, according to an initial listing
report by sole bookrunner Rabee Securities.
Asiacell and domestic rivals Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of
Kuwait's Zain, and France Telecom affiliate
Korek all missed an August 2011 deadline to float a quarter of
The Qtel subsidiary will be the first of the three to list
in Iraq and its listing will roughly double the ISX's market
capitalisation, which currently stands at about $4.7 billion.
(Reporting by Aseel Kami, Writing by Matt Smith,; Editing by