Iraq Stock Market Capitalization to Double

Iraq's stock exchange market will double its capitalization to $8 billion once the three main mobile-phone companies operating in the country are listed, according to Taha A. Abdulsalam, chief executive of the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX).

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.

The companies have yet to change to shareholding companies, a key requirement and the first main step towards going public on the local Iraqi bourse, but according to this report from Reuters, the regulators have given them more time to complete the process, which initially was supposed to have been done by the end of August.

On Wednesday, the head of the ISX told Reuters that the current market capitalization of the Iraqi bourse could double from $4 billion to $8 billion once the mobile companies managed to list in the coming month.

A commissioner of Iraq's Communications and Media Commission or CMC, which regulates telecommunications in Iraq, said last week he did not expect any offerings until mid-2012.

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

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

The Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX), which started operating in 2004 and currently has 86 listed firms after Elaf Islamic Bank joined recently, is one outpost of private investment outside the oil industry in a country still dominated by state firms.

Abdulsalam said the volume of shares traded through Sept. 30 this year was $495 million compared with $337 million in full-year 2010.

(Source: Reuters)

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