Equities: A primer on how to invest in Iraq

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Iraq, is not a place that immediately comes to mind when thinking of attractive investment opportunities.  However, it may show some promise if examined carefully.  Since the US invasion of Iraq, the stock exchange has quickly developed and led to rapidly developing capital markets.  In 2009, the Iraqi stock exchange went electronic.  Since then, over 40 broker/dealers have been registered and provide access to the market for even foreigners.

The fact box below provides a brief overview of the country.  Of course Wikipedia will give you a much better description of the country and its economy.

Iraq’s economy has grown by 5% on average over the past 5 years, and this has contributed to a rapidly rising GDP and GDP per capita.  Unemployment remains a key concern (15%), as well as inflation pressure.  This is all aside from the obvious security concerns that are ever-present in Iraq.

 

The stock exchange itself operates on very simple terms, and is easily understood by anyone who has traded in US equity markets before (the Iraqi Stock Exchange received significant assistance from various US groups).  T+1 settlement is in fact better than most Frontier Markets.  The fact box below provides a brief overview of the stock exchange.

Now that you have a general understanding of the market, the pertinent question would be if you can invest; you can.  Iraq has virtually no foreign investor restrictions, and is one of the easiest markets to invest in, globally.  You need to invest at least $10,000 USD initially, and each subsequent wire must be for at least $1,000 USD.  The minimum buy/sell order is for 100,000 shares, and the fee for trading is generally between $10 and $20 per trade.  A great overview of Iraq securities law is provided here.

If you’re an individual investor, you will need the following:

  • a colour copy of your passport (notarized)
  • The usual address, citizenship, and banking information.

If you are a company, you will need the following:

  • Certificates of incorporation
  • Articles of association
  • Letter of authorization (on behalf of shareholders)
  • Notarized copies of your passports for each authorized person(s)

That is it.  It really is as simple as that.

The two brokers with the most experience and the best reputation in Iraq are Rabee Securities, and Aljazera Brokerage Company.  Rabee Securities is the better bet, but nothing wrong with going with Aljazera.

 

Now that you know about the country, market, and how to invest, see below for a list of the companies that are larger than $10mm USD in market cap on the market.

You can see that 60% of the market is one company, Asiacell.  However, there are 11 other companies with a market cap over $100mm, and most have fair amount of liquidity for the individual investor.  For institutional investors, this market remains illiquid and difficult to enter.

 

There you have it, a brief overview of the Iraq Stock Exchange and how to invest in Iraq.  If you have any questions, as always, we’ll be happy to assist you.

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