Asiacell Appoints New CEO

Asiacell has announced the selection of Mr. Amer Al Sunna as the new Chief Executive Officer.
The company, which is listed on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) and recently completed the largest IPO in Middle East since 2008 successfully, has more than 10.5 million subscribers in entire Iraq and its network covers almost %97 of country’s populated areas along with prominent achievements under the leadership of its chairman and founder Faruk Rasool and ex- CEO, Dr. Diar Ahmed.
Amer Al Sunna will be a great asset to Asiacell and we are confident he will hit the ground running,” said Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Asiacell chairman. “We are positive that his vast experience, knowledge and understanding of the issues important to our business and telecom industry will help continue the success of our operation and ensure our success well into the future”.
Amer Sunna joined the Ooredoo family as Chief Executive Officer of wi-tribe Jordan in August of 2010; while in August 2011 he was appointed as Chief Operating Advisor of wi-tribe Philippines, as of February 2013 he is the Managing Director of Asiacell Iraq.
He brings with him 20 years of experience dedicated to the improvement of customer experience in telecommunications through a number of executive positions at various high profile organizations.
Sunna, who carries a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Jordan University, was the CEO of three specialized telecommunication and internet services companies owned by VTEL Holdings in the Commonwealth of Independent States region (Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia) and the Group Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Orange and has played a vital role in shaping the telecommunications sector in Jordan.
“Asiacell will continue to play a key role for shaping the telecom market in Iraq,” said Sunna. “I am deeply thankful to our Chairman and Board of Directors for their trust and confidence. It brings me great honor to be appointed as the CEO of one of the leading and most reputable companies in the region. I am looking forward to working closely with Asiacell team; I will certainly do my utmost in leading Asiacell to achieving all our stakeholders’ expectations”.
Outgoing CEO Dr. Diar Ahmed who served in his position for almost 6 years will remains serving the company as Chief Advisor to the Chairman.
(Source: Asiacell)

Source: Iraq-BusinessNews.com.

Post your commentary below.

US to Build New Erbil Consulate

Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, has signed an agreement with the US Consul General in Erbil, Mr Joseph Pennington, paving the way for the construction of the US Consulate General.
Minister Mustafa signed on behalf of the KRG and expressed his belief that this agreement would strengthen the already existing strong relationship.
He said:
We have a special and historical relationship with the United States of America as previously expressed by the leadership on both sides, and I am confident that this move will begin a new phase in our relationship.
The agreement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both governments in July last year for the allocation of land. The US Consulate is currently in a large rented compound in Erbil. The new compound will be more permanent.
Mr Pennington said that this was an important milestone in US-Iraqi relations, and especially with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of the Region. He said that the new Consulate General compound would demonstrate America’s long-term commitment to promote and expand ties between the American people and the people of Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
Both officials also discussed the developments in Iraq as a whole, Syria and the region more generally.
The delegation accompanying Mr Pennington included Mr Marco Sims, Management Officer. The meeting was also attended by Assistant Head of DFR, Ms Siham Jabali and other officials from the DFR.
(Source: KRG)

Source: Iraq-BusinessNews.com.

Post your commentary below.

Oryx Updates on Kurdistan Operations

Oryx Petroleum has announced an update on its activities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Chief Executive Officer, Michael Ebsary (pictured), stated:
We continue to make great progress on all fronts in our Hawler license area. Progress continues towards first production from the Demir Dagh discovery with an early production facility now contracted and we are advancing the balance of our exploration program.
“Testing of our second exploration well at Zey Gawra will begin in the next few weeks, preliminary indications from the third exploration well at Ain Al Safra are encouraging and we will spud our fourth and possibly most significant exploration well at Banan in the next two weeks.
“The coming months in Kurdistan should be exciting as we continue to unlock the potential we see in the Hawler license area.
Hawler License Area

  • Demir Dagh Discovery: Contract Signed for Early Production Facility

Oryx Petroleum recently agreed to lease an Early Production Facility (EPF) from Expro, an international oilfield services company specializing in well flow management (www.exprogroup.com). The facility will have multiple trains with the ability to process light, heavy, sweet or sour crudes types. The lease period is expected to be two years with options to purchase at any point during the lease.
The EPF will have an initial capacity of 25,000 bbl/d and will be re-engineered to a capacity of 40,000 bbl/d. The facility is expected to be in place in Q1 2014 with first production planned for Q2 2014. The EPF may also be utilized for the appraisal of the other outlying prospective fields Banan and Zey Gawra.
Site preparation has commenced for the EPF which will be located 150 metres from the DD-2 well site and 500 metres from the Khurmala to Faysh Khabur pipeline that is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. A truck tanker loading station with initial capacity of 10,000 bbl/d will also be constructed 9.5 kilometres from the EPF near the main highway to facilitate domestic sales.

Source: Iraq-BusinessNews.com.

Post your commentary below.

Ayatollah Sistani and The Battle of Najaf

By*Hayder al-Khoei for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
A memoir published in 2012 by a representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani sheds new light on the Battle of Najaf that unfolded in August 2004 in southern Iraq. Hamid al-Khafaf, Sistani’s Beirut representative, takes readers behind the scenes in a fascinating account of a crucial period in Iraq’s contemporary history in Al-Rihla al-‘Ilajiya li Samahat al-Sayyid al-Sistani wa Azmat al-Najaf ‘Aam 2004 (The Medical Journey of His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani and the Crisis of Najaf in 2004).
Many parts of the book read like a fast-paced movie script, with intimate details of back-channel talks and frantic last-minute deals in an effort to avoid a catastrophe. US-backed Iraqi forces were itching to storm the holy shrine in Najaf to route the Mahdi Army forces fortified inside. Sistani, however, stood in the way.
The ayatollah did not want to see further violence in Najaf or have the shrine desecrated on his watch. Instead of a military solution, Sistani and his aides pushed for UN mediation, and when that failed, they personally intervened by negotiating a cease-fire with the Mahdi Army founder, Moqtada al-Sadr. In the end, thousands of Sistani followers poured into the shrine, providing cover for the militants, who walked out without their weapons, defeated but alive.
This was not the first time that Sistani had intervened to end a conflict in Najaf. In April 2004, another battle had raged between the Mahdi Army and US-Iraqi authorities. Khafaf reveals how Sistani’s office drafted a four-point cease-fire agreement in Sadr’s name and addressed it to the “Shia House,” an informal group of Shiite figures and political parties. Sistani’s son, Sayyid Mohammed Ridha, presented the letter to Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Asifi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iraq.
It was well-known that Iran was providing Sadr with political, financial and military support. Sistani’s son gave the letter to Asifi so he, in turn, could hand it to Sadr to sign. In early August 2004, the terms of that cease-fire agreement were broken, leading to much fiercer fighting. Given that the holy shrine of Najaf was in danger, the stakes were much higher as well.

Source: Iraq-BusinessNews.com.

Post your commentary below.

A Vote of Confidence for BDSI

By Mark DeWeaver.

So far this has been a bad year for shareholders of Dar Es Salaam Bank (BDSI). Adjusting for July’s 23.2% rights and 18.5% bonus issues, the shares are down 36% year-to-date (as of September 10). This compares to a ytd return of -5% for the ISX index and +6% for Rabee Securities RSISX index.

This dismal performance is mainly due to the decision of majority shareholder HSBC to exit its position. The British bank announced in June that it was looking for a buyer for its 70.1% (pre-rights issue) stake and that it would not be subscribing to BDSI’s rights issue. (See this story.) Indeed, getting rid of BDSI now seems to be quite high on the HSBC “to do” list. At one point it even offered to give away its stake for nothing! (This offer was blocked by the Iraqi regulators, however.)

Without HSBC as a shareholder, BDSI could conceivably lose a sizable share of its current business. But this does not necessarily mean that earnings growth will suffer. There is likely to be considerable room for the bank to expand into new areas.

Lending is the most obvious example. As of the end of June, BDSI’s loan/deposit ratio was a mere 2%, the second lowest among the listed banks. The average for the sector is 40%. HSBC’s approach to risk management in Iraq has clearly been unduly cautious. With a new majority shareholder, BDSI may be in a position to grow its loan book considerably, thereby replacing lost fee and commission revenue with interest income.

It is also encouraging that the bank recently increased its capital from IQD 105.8 to IQD 150 billion. Following HSBC’s decision not to take up its rights, its rights shares were offered to the public and were reportedly oversubscribed. The biggest subscriber is said to have been one of the local investors in last February’s Asiacell IPO.

This vote of confidence had an immediate effect on the share price. Since closing at a multi-year low of IQD 1.07 on August 28, the last day of the subscription period, as of September 10 BDSI is up 26%.

Life without HSBC might not be so bad after all.

GKP Surges on Court Ruling

By John Lee.

Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum surged more than 25 percent when trading re-commenced at lunchtime on Tuesday, following a court finding in the company’s favour.

A summary of the English Commercial Court in London’s decision was given in court this morning following the trial of the claims asserted by Excalibur Ventures LLC against GKP, its two subsidiaries, and Texas Keystone Inc.

The Court dismissed all of Excalibur’s claims and decided all issues in favour of the Defendants. The hearing was adjourned to a date to be fixed, for argument on costs and any application for permission to appeal.

Commenting on the Judge’s decision today, Gulf Keystone’s CEO Todd Kozel (pictured) said:

We are very pleased to have achieved the best possible outcome from the point of view of the Company and our shareholders. We look forward to pursuing the Company’s stated objectives for the future, now that we have the Court’s decision regarding these historical events.

“We understand that the legal process must take its course once a claim has been lodged, but it has been unfortunate that the Company and its shareholders have experienced significant uncertainty and concern over the last two and a half years and that its executives have been engaged in a protracted and costly dispute to protect the position of the Company and its shareholders.

“The Board and management will now focus on progressing the ramp-up in production and development of the Shaikan world class discovery in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. On the corporate front, our next objective is to complete the move to the standard segment of the Official List by the end of 2013.

(Sources: GKP, Yahoo)

Gulf Precast Builds 65 Schools in Iraq

UAE-based Gulf Precast has signed a contract to build 65 precast schools in various locations in Central Iraq.

The design of the schools and their boundary walls has already been finalised. While the initial part of the production is under way in the UAE, Gulf Precast is already in the process of setting up a production plant in Iraq. This is the first phase of the international expansion strategy of the UAE Precast Leader.

The Precast schools awarded to Gulf Precast are a part of an Iraqi national program to build 1,485 schools across Iraq this year. The schools have been specified using precast construction, and consist of 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 class rooms. While several potential Precast Manufacturers had been considered, Gulf Precast, which has been operating in the Emirates for the last 28 years, has been selected both for its wealth of expertise and for its readiness to set up a Precast Plant in Iraq.

The Iraq factory will cater for the second production phase of the schools project as well as for the fast-track infrastructure and housing program launched by the Iraq government, delivering quality construction by the UAE expert which handled many iconic projects, such as the Dubai Mall, the Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, high rise towers in the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex, more than 2,000 villas in the Al Falah Community Development, to name a few.

The new Iraq factory will complement the current 6 UAE plants managed by Gulf Precast as well as its 2 recent additions: its new Al Ain mobile Plant and Abu Dhabi Airport extension on-site Plant. Located in Baghdad, the Iraq factory is designed to produce 200 M3 of Precast per day in addition to 900 M2 of Hollowcore slabs daily.

Omar Araim, the representative of Gulf Precast in Iraq stated:

The Iraqi government has launched an ambitious program of construction development which can only be achieved if modern performing technologies such as Precast are employed. By being present in the country during the initial stages of this program, companies such as Gulf Precast are positioning themselves as a key actor of the expected national expansion.

Gulf Precast’s expansion strategy is not limited to Iraq only, but also includes numerous countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Oman, India and or Nigeria, countries in which Joint Ventures are in progress with governmental and private organisations.

Elias Seraphim (pictured), CEO of Gulf Precast declared that:

The expertise gained by Gulf Precast in the very mature and demanding construction sector of the United Arab Emirates is perceived as a critical success factor by many of our Joint Venture partners or intended partners.

“They, in turn, bring to the partnership their extensive knowledge of the local construction market. In a few years’ time, Gulf Precast intends to become an internationally renowned key player of the construction economy.

(Source: Gulf Precast)

Oryx Updates on Kurdistan Operations

Oryx Petroleum has announced an update on its activities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Chief Executive Officer, Michael Ebsary (pictured), stated:

We continue to make great progress on all fronts in our Hawler license area. Progress continues towards first production from the Demir Dagh discovery with an early production facility now contracted and we are advancing the balance of our exploration program.

“Testing of our second exploration well at Zey Gawra will begin in the next few weeks, preliminary indications from the third exploration well at Ain Al Safra are encouraging and we will spud our fourth and possibly most significant exploration well at Banan in the next two weeks.

“The coming months in Kurdistan should be exciting as we continue to unlock the potential we see in the Hawler license area.

Hawler License Area

  • Demir Dagh Discovery: Contract Signed for Early Production Facility

Oryx Petroleum recently agreed to lease an Early Production Facility (EPF) from Expro, an international oilfield services company specializing in well flow management (www.exprogroup.com). The facility will have multiple trains with the ability to process light, heavy, sweet or sour crudes types. The lease period is expected to be two years with options to purchase at any point during the lease.

The EPF will have an initial capacity of 25,000 bbl/d and will be re-engineered to a capacity of 40,000 bbl/d. The facility is expected to be in place in Q1 2014 with first production planned for Q2 2014. The EPF may also be utilized for the appraisal of the other outlying prospective fields Banan and Zey Gawra.

Site preparation has commenced for the EPF which will be located 150 metres from the DD-2 well site and 500 metres from the Khurmala to Faysh Khabur pipeline that is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. A truck tanker loading station with initial capacity of 10,000 bbl/d will also be constructed 9.5 kilometres from the EPF near the main highway to facilitate domestic sales.

Asiacell Appoints New CEO

Asiacell has announced the selection of Mr. Amer Al Sunna as the new Chief Executive Officer.

The company, which is listed on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) and recently completed the largest IPO in Middle East since 2008 successfully, has more than 10.5 million subscribers in entire Iraq and its network covers almost %97 of country’s populated areas along with prominent achievements under the leadership of its chairman and founder Faruk Rasool and ex- CEO, Dr. Diar Ahmed.

Amer Al Sunna will be a great asset to Asiacell and we are confident he will hit the ground running,” said Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Asiacell chairman. “We are positive that his vast experience, knowledge and understanding of the issues important to our business and telecom industry will help continue the success of our operation and ensure our success well into the future”.

Amer Sunna joined the Ooredoo family as Chief Executive Officer of wi-tribe Jordan in August of 2010; while in August 2011 he was appointed as Chief Operating Advisor of wi-tribe Philippines, as of February 2013 he is the Managing Director of Asiacell Iraq.

He brings with him 20 years of experience dedicated to the improvement of customer experience in telecommunications through a number of executive positions at various high profile organizations.

Sunna, who carries a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Jordan University, was the CEO of three specialized telecommunication and internet services companies owned by VTEL Holdings in the Commonwealth of Independent States region (Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia) and the Group Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Orange and has played a vital role in shaping the telecommunications sector in Jordan.

“Asiacell will continue to play a key role for shaping the telecom market in Iraq,” said Sunna. “I am deeply thankful to our Chairman and Board of Directors for their trust and confidence. It brings me great honor to be appointed as the CEO of one of the leading and most reputable companies in the region. I am looking forward to working closely with Asiacell team; I will certainly do my utmost in leading Asiacell to achieving all our stakeholders’ expectations”.

Outgoing CEO Dr. Diar Ahmed who served in his position for almost 6 years will remains serving the company as Chief Advisor to the Chairman.

(Source: Asiacell)

Ayatollah Sistani and The Battle of Najaf

By Hayder al-Khoei for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A memoir published in 2012 by a representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani sheds new light on the Battle of Najaf that unfolded in August 2004 in southern Iraq. Hamid al-Khafaf, Sistani’s Beirut representative, takes readers behind the scenes in a fascinating account of a crucial period in Iraq’s contemporary history in Al-Rihla al-‘Ilajiya li Samahat al-Sayyid al-Sistani wa Azmat al-Najaf ‘Aam 2004 (The Medical Journey of His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani and the Crisis of Najaf in 2004).

Many parts of the book read like a fast-paced movie script, with intimate details of back-channel talks and frantic last-minute deals in an effort to avoid a catastrophe. US-backed Iraqi forces were itching to storm the holy shrine in Najaf to route the Mahdi Army forces fortified inside. Sistani, however, stood in the way.

The ayatollah did not want to see further violence in Najaf or have the shrine desecrated on his watch. Instead of a military solution, Sistani and his aides pushed for UN mediation, and when that failed, they personally intervened by negotiating a cease-fire with the Mahdi Army founder, Moqtada al-Sadr. In the end, thousands of Sistani followers poured into the shrine, providing cover for the militants, who walked out without their weapons, defeated but alive.

This was not the first time that Sistani had intervened to end a conflict in Najaf. In April 2004, another battle had raged between the Mahdi Army and US-Iraqi authorities. Khafaf reveals how Sistani’s office drafted a four-point cease-fire agreement in Sadr’s name and addressed it to the “Shia House,” an informal group of Shiite figures and political parties. Sistani’s son, Sayyid Mohammed Ridha, presented the letter to Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Asifi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iraq.

It was well-known that Iran was providing Sadr with political, financial and military support. Sistani’s son gave the letter to Asifi so he, in turn, could hand it to Sadr to sign. In early August 2004, the terms of that cease-fire agreement were broken, leading to much fiercer fighting. Given that the holy shrine of Najaf was in danger, the stakes were much higher as well.