Iraqi operators fined for missing IPO deadline

Two of Iraq’s three mobile operators have been issued fines by the country’s regulator after missing the deadline for making an IPO.

Asiacell and Korek Telecom have both failed to list on the country’s stock exchange, despite the supposed deadline of August 2011. Each operator has been fined a hefty fee for each day since the deadline elapsed – Asiacell’s daily fine is US$8500, while Korek Telecom has received a smaller daily fine of US$2500.

The third operator – market-leading Zain – has similarly failed to make an IPO, but whether it will be fined is current being debated, according to Ahmed Alomary, commissioner of Iraq's Communications and Media Commission (CMC).

The three operators each paid US$1.25 billion for their licences when they were sold in 2007; an IPO was part of the licensing agreement, although reportedly none of the operators believed that the young Iraq Stock Exchange would handle the IPOs competently.

Asiacell – of which Qatari Qtel is the majority owener - is the second-place operator with 37% market share at the first quarter; Korek lags behind with 13% while Zain takes the remaining 50%.

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