Tag Archive | "Morgan Stanley"

“Rocky Road Ahead” for Asiacell IPO


By John Lee.

Doubts have been expressed regarding Asiacell‘s ability to raise the record $1.27 billion planned in its forthcoming IPO (initial public offering).

According to a report from International Financing Review, observers are said there is a strong possibility the deal may not go through.

The thing about these three Iraqi mobile companies is that they were required to IPO, but none of them want to IPO,” said one ECM banker covering the region.

All three firms, Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek, failed to meet the original deadline of an IPO by August 2011 and fines were automatically triggered.

The regulators are in a difficult situation. They can’t just cancel the licences and take all those phones offline,” the banker said.

There were suggestions that there is not a strong enough investor base in Iraq to absorb a US$1.27bn deal, and there are question marks over the infrastructure capabilities of the Baghdad bourse.

And if local reports are to be believed, the transaction was mistakenly launched on a public holiday – anyone wanting to put in orders would have found the Iraq Stock Exchange closed for the day.

HSBC and Morgan Stanley were announced as managing the offer along with the Iraqi firm Rabee Securities, but Morgan Stanley withdrew last year after it became clear the deal’s distribution focus was to be almost entirely domestic. It remains an adviser to Asiacell’s parent company, Qatar’s Qtel.

HSBC stayed, but when the intention to float was announced late last year it was no longer on the syndicate list and Rabee Securities was listed as sole bookrunner. A source close to the deal said HSBC also exited because of issues around local distribution.

Melak Iraq is advising the company.

(Source: International Financing Review)

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Morgan Stanley to “Drop Out of Asiacell’s Iraqi IPO”


By John Lee.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley is no longer a bookrunner for the IPO (initial public offering) of Asiacell, the Iraqi telecom operator majority-owned by Qatar Telecom (QTEL).

A person with knowledge of the discussions told the news agency that, while Morgan Stanley is still an adviser on the deal, the company will not manage Asiacell’s share sale because it does not have a client base inside Iraq, where most of the demand for this IPO is expected.

The sale of a 25 percent stake in Asiacell could raise as much as $1 billion, making it the biggest ever in the country, and doubling the market capitalization of the Iraq Stock Exchange.

Rabee Securities, a Baghdad-based brokerage, is also managing Asiacell’s IPO.

A London-based official at Morgan Stanley declined to comment, as did a Qtel spokesman.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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Qtel to Buy Out Asiacell Partner?


Reuters, citing banking sources familiar with the matter, reports that Qatar Telecom (Qtel) plans to buy out a private equity partner’s 19-percent stake in Iraqi telecoms operator Asiacell.

Qtel, the Gulf state’s former monopoly, has a 30-percent stake in Asiacell, Iraq’s number two operator, while its partner MerchantBridge owns 19 percent.

Morgan Stanley is reportedly assisting Qtel in the process, while London-based MerchantBridge is being advised by Credit Suisse.

In October, Asiacell appointed HSBC and Morgan Stanley to manage an initial public offering in Iraq. A potential sale of MerchantBridge’s stake was likely to happen before the IPO, the sources said.

(Source: Reuters)

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Foreigners Invest in Iraq’s Bourse, Expect Boom


According to a report from Reuters, with better regulation and the expected listing of the country’s three main mobile phone firms, foreign investors are increasingly choosing Iraq’s stock market as a lucrative investment.

Iraq’s bourse is still tiny in comparison with other regional or international stock markets, but a drop in violence since the peak of sectarian fighting in 2006-2007 and the scope for quick growth is lifting interest.

Taha Abdulsalam, chief executive of the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), recently announced that the volume of shares traded through Sept. 30 this year was $495 million compared with $337 million in full-year 2010.

The ISX, which started operating in 2004 and currently has 86 listed firms, is one outpost of private investment outside of the oil industry in a country still dominated by state firms.

The number of shares foreign investors bought through to end-Sept. this year was 66 billion, valued at $110 million, Abdulsalam said. Foreign trading was almost non-existent a few years ago.

Russian-based 55 North Company is a bold example of foreign appetite in the ISX.

The firm plans to establish an investment fund worth $25 million, its managing director Paul Collison said, the maximum it can invest right now due to the low level of liquidity in Iraq’s stock market.

“It is important to start early on… it is a fantastic opportunity for a small fund to get established,” he said.

Panu Saukkonen, a senior partner at Finnish Virtus Capital Oy Company which started investing in the Iraqi bourse three years ago, said Iraq was a great choice to invest in as there is no serious competition and market values are still low.

The three mobile phone operators, Asiacell, Korek Telecom, and Zain Iraq, are required by the terms to their licences to list shares on the local bourse, and this could see the ISX’s current market capitalisation of $4 billion double, Abdulsalam told Reuters last week. .

Oliver Emanuel, executive director of Middle East and North Africa sales and trading at Morgan Stanley, said the initial public offerings by Iraq’s mobile phone firms would give a great boost to the local market.

“The upcoming telecom IPOs will no doubt act as a catalyst for the Iraq stock market precipitating greater focus by international and regional investors, helping improve liquidity,” Emanuel said.

Investors said the implementation of some regulations such as custodian bank services and share trading settlement could further open the market for more foreign capital.

A share trading settlement would allow non-Iraqi investors up to two days to arrange their payment after making a trade, compared with currently having to pay before conducting a trade.

Saukkonen said having a custodian bank could boost its investment by at least 10 times within three years.

The head of the Iraqi Securities Commission (ISC), Abdulrazaq al-Saadi, said custodian regulation would be issued in November.

The ISX moved from manual to automated trading in 2009 and is open for trading for two hours a day, five days a week. Each trade takes around 8 seconds to process.

The banking sector is the largest on the bourse, which also lists industrial, insurance, hotel and agriculture firms.

Collison said he expected the ISX to grow quickly once an international bank takes on the custodian role but said the market would need to be closely monitored.

“The risk is you get a very quick bubble and it will lose 50 percent and that is exactly what happened in places like Russia,” said Collison.

(Source: Reuters)

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2 of the 3 Mobile Telcos Select Banks for IPO


Asiacell has selected HSBC and Morgan Stanley to manage its initial public offering (IPO) on the Iraqi bourse, according to Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Diar Ahmed told the news agency that the company will offer 25 percent of its shares, but did not specify when.

The company, which is an affiliate of Qatar Telecom, is in talks with Iraqi authorities to complete the listing procedures and set a timeframe, he said.

According to regulations, it should also convert from a limited liability company to a shareholding company before listing on the stock exchange.

Along with its two competitors, Zain and Korek Telecom, it was due to trade 25 percent of its shares on the Iraq Stock Exchange by the end of August, according to the terms of its licence.

Reports were unclear as to whether the three companies will be fined for missing the deadline.

Reuters reports that Zain has also begun the process of changing to a shareholding company, and  has appointed BNP Paribas, Citigroup and National Bank of Kuwait to manage its IPO, while Korek Telecom has yet to invite banks to pitch.

Iraq has 23 million mobile-phone subscribers, according to the Communications and Media Commission.

(Source: Reuters, Bloomberg)

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