October 9, 2017 / 8:52 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Iraqi government wants Kurdistan-based mobile phone networks under its control

(Adds Korek shareholder shares down)

BAGHDAD, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The Iraqi government will seek to impose control over Kurdistan-based mobile phone operators and move their headquarters to the capital Baghdad, it said on Monday.

The announcement followed a cabinet meeting attended by top security officials and is part of a series of measures taken against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq after a referendum on Kurdish independence last month delivered an overwhelming vote to break away from Iraq.

The statement did not identify the networks concerned, but it is believed to be directed at Korek and Asiacell , respectively based in the KRG capital Erbil and Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya. Iraq’s third operator, Zain, is based in Baghdad.

Representatives of Korek and Asiacell declined to comment.

There were no details on how the measure would be implemented or whether the operators’ licences would be withdrawn by central government if the companies do not comply.

“The government committee for national security issued a decision that all mobile phone networks must be under federal control and should be moved to Baghdad,” it said.

The Iraqi government, which considers the referendum to be against the constitution, has taken measures to isolate the KRG, including a ban on direct international flights to the region.

Neighbouring Iran and Turkey backed Baghdad’s measure, fearing a spread of separatism to their own Kurdish populations.

Shares oin Kuwaiti logistics company Agility, a shareholder in Korek, fell 1.9 percent to 883 Kuwaiti fils. Asiacell rose 0.4 percent to 5.12 Iraqi dinars. (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Toby Chopra and David Goodman)

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