By John Lee.
Iraq is reportedly planning to sell shares in the $1.3-billion Grand Faw container port to the public.
The head of the Basra provincial council, Sabah Al-Bazooni, told Bloomberg Business that the local government in Basra will seek permission from Baghdad in the coming days to set up a holding company to sell the shares; Iraq has banned the holding company structure since the Saddam Hussein era.
He added that the Council wants to list the holding company on the Iraq Stock Exchange, with the public shares representing a 25 percent stake, local government owning 26 percent, and foreign investors 49 percent.
The council is in talks with American and Chinese companies with a view to possible investment.
The project was first proposed in 2011 on a much larger scale that included an oil export platform, and with an estimated cost of $17 billion, but the subsequent collapse in the price of oil has caused it to be scaled back. Current planss are for 25 to 30 container platforms.
Plans for the port have led to tensions with neighboring Kuwait, which is building its own 'Mubarak Al-Kabeer' container port nearby; Iraq had expressed concern that the Kuwaiti port may hamper may restrict access to Grand Faw.
(Source: Bloomberg Business)