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Highly commended Middle Eastern deal of the year 2013: Asiacell

Asiacell $1.2 billion IPO
Distributor selling agent Rabee Securities
return to the Deals of the Year 2013 index

Frontier markets are in vogue and there are few markets less tapped than Iraq. It is perhaps fitting, then, that in February 2013 Iraq produced the biggest IPO in the Gulf region since the 2008 global financial crisis: the $1.2 billion listing of mobile phone firm Asiacell.

Mobile telephony is a hot sector, particularly in frontier markets. Asiacell and its peers in Iraq are also regarded as well-run companies – which bodes well for Zain Iraq and Korek Telecom. Those firms (it is hoped) are due to follow Asiacell with listings in Baghdad.

As part of Asiacell’s IPO, Qatar Telecom (QTel, now known as Ooredoo) increased its stake in the firm from 53.9% to 64.1%. Asiacell’s shares traded upwards in the weeks following the listing. However, completing the transaction was by no means easy.

The company’s $5 billion valuation was roughly equal to the market capitalization of the entire exchange before the listing and the size of the transaction was equivalent to several hundred times average daily trading.

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