Iraq's three main mobile phone companies - Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek - appear unlikely to meet a month-end deadline to list on the local stock exchange, raising the chances of them being penalised, according to Reuters.
The companies are required by Iraqi law to launch initial public offerings on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) by 31st August as part of the 15-year, $1.25 billion operating licences they secured in 2007.
None of the three limited companies has yet become a shareholding firm, a key requirement and the first main step towards going public on the local bourse.
"They must meet the requirement to be a shareholders' company before anything," ISX Chief Executive Taha Abdulsalam told Reuters. "After that, we will talk about listing."
He said that after becoming shareholding companies, the firms would need approval from the ISX board and Iraq's securities commission in order to be listed; the ISX board decision could take 24 hours, while the securities commission may take up to a week to give their consent. It would then take 2-3 weeks before the companies would be ready to trade.
He concluded that it was impossible for the companies to list on the bourse by the end of August.
"We still insist that they have to reach the licence conditions within the deadline of 31 August," CMC Commissioner Ahmed Alomary told Reuters. "Otherwise they will receive penalties."
Zain Iraq is a unit of Kuwait's Zain, while Asiacell is an affiliate of Qatar Telecom (Qtel), and Korek is part-owned by France Telecom SA and Kuwait's Agility.
There are now around 23 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, according to the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), which regulates telecommunications in Iraq.