Iraqi telco Asiacell to launch IPO on Jan 3

Matt Smith

DUBAI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Iraqi telecom operator Asiacell

will launch its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) on

Jan. 3, a company spokesman said on Monday, in what is likely to

be the country's largest-ever share sale.

Asiacell, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom (Qtel),

aims to sell a quarter of its stock in the IPO and will list on

the Iraq Stock Exchange on Feb. 3, the spokesman said.

The company has until Dec. 25 to tell the market regulator

the number and price of the shares it wants to sell.

Asiacell - given an enterprise value (equity plus debt) of

$4.4 billion in 2011 by brokerage Nomura Holdings - received

preliminary approval from Iraqi regulators to launch its share

sale in August this year.

Morgan Stanley ceased to be a bookrunner on the IPO in

September, signalling it will increasingly rely on local


Asiacell and rival operators Zain Iraq (a subsidiary of

Kuwait's Zain ) and France Telecom affiliate

Korek had been required to float a quarter of their shares by

August 2011 as part of their $1.25 billion licence agreements.

All have yet to do so and the planned share offerings would

still be the first major IPOs since the U.S.-led invasion that

toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Iraq Stock Exchange, whose listed stocks have a combined

market capitalisation of about $3.7 billion, has a daily share

trading volume of around $3.2 million.

(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Dinesh Nair and David