Iraqi mobile giant Asiacell sold a quarter of its stake to investors Sunday, raising close to $1.3 billion in one of the region’s biggest share offerings in years. The floatation on the Iraq Stock Exchange was seen as a test of stakeholder confidence in the country. It could encourage international businessmen, many of whom remain careful of the Iraqi market that is affected by violence and political impasse.
The company had offered 25 percent of its shares, or 67.5 billion, as part of licensing requisites. The first costs were set at 22 Iraqi dinars, or just below 2 cents.
With the company’s share offer, the market capitalization of the ISX climbed to about $9 billion from $4.7 billion. Foreign investors acquired about two thirds of the stock.
Taha Al Rubaye, head of the exchange, said it is the foremost stock float on the ISX, which was set up in 2004, a year after an American-led invasion ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He said he thinks it is the biggest IPO in the Middle East in nearly five years. New York-based fund manager GeofferyBatt, who had been investing on the Baghdad exchange since 2008, said the Iraqi mobile giant is proof that the country has a workable capital market.