Qatar Telecom (Qtel) plans to raise its stake in Asiacell as part of the Iraqi unit’s USD1.35 billion share sale, a Baghdad bourse official has revealed to Reuters. Layth Sulaiman, head of the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) board of governors, told the news agency: ‘According to the information I have, Qtel will not sell its shares, it is a buyer’.
Reuters describes the sale process as ‘opaque’, noting that it has been unclear as to whether Asiacell’s shareholders – also including London-based Merchant Bridge and a number of unnamed Iraqi investors – would be selling their shares on a proportional basis. Reuters also notes that the share sale is not technically an initial public offering (IPO) because Asiacell has already carried out a nominal IPO to convert to a joint stock company, as required under Iraqi law.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in early June 2012 Qtel reached a provisional agreement to double its holding in Asiacell to 60% in a proposed deal valued at USD1.47 billion, although exact details, including which shareholders would sell their stakes, were not immediately available. Industry insiders now say that they expect Qtel to use the share sale to acquire the outstanding shares it still needs to meet its target.