Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek were supposed to go public by the end of August. For these Iraqi cell phone companies, there was no choice: the requirement to list on the Iraq Stock Exchange was included in the operating licenses they got back in 2007. Now, it looks like they won’t meet the deadline, and penalties loom.
The big problem is each needs to become a ‘shareholding firm’, according to a Reuters report. None has done so yet. That’s the first step to listing.
The cell phone market, which didn’t exist under Saddam Hussein, now boasts approximately 23 mn subscribers. It’s a pretty big business in a country still trying to find its feet.
To list on the Iraq Stock Exchange, the companies would still have to get approval from the board (after becoming shareholding firms), which could take 24 hours, and the securities they want to list could take as long as week to be approved. Then, another two to three weeks would pass as they get ready to trade on the exchange. It’s already August 17 – time is running out.
The types of penalties to which the companies could be subjected have not yet been decided.