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Zain struggling to meet IPO deadline

4 Jul 2011

The Iraqi unit of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain Group has said it faces ‘a big challenge’ to meet the August deadline to launch an initial public offering (IPO) on the country’s stock exchange, Reuters reports, citing a company executive. Zain Iraq’s CEO, Emad Makiya, said the operator hoped to list on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) by the end of August, but may end up floating less than a 25% stake – the minimum share required under the terms of its licence agreement. ‘We are talking to the regulator and ISX about what is the best approach for the country,’ said Makiya, when asked if he had asked the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) and ISX about postponing the IPO. ‘The CMC and ISX may prefer smaller percentages (to be floated) at the beginning, we shall coordinate these issues with them,’ he added.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zain Iraq – then known as Atheer Telecoms – launched commercial operations in March 2004 using GSM equipment supplied by Nokia. The cellco, which in March 2011 officially launched services in Kurdistan, is Iraq’s largest mobile operator by subscribers with a total 12.065 million users at the end of March 2011, equating to a market share of 51.8%. Zain Group was awarded one of three new 15-year national mobile concessions for USD1.25 billion, plus an 18.5% revenue-sharing agreement, in August 2007. The licence carries an obligation to launch an IPO within four years. The other licence recipients, Asiacell, which is part-owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel), and Korek, part-owned by France Telecom, must also sell 25% of their shares and list on the bourse by the end of August.

Iraq, Asiacell, Korek Telecom, Zain Iraq

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