The Iraq Stock Exchange: Slowly Coming to Life
Considering the problems that Iraq currently has (terrorism, civil unrest, destroyed infrastructure, political turmoil), you may be surprised to find out that Iraq actually has its own stock exchange, called the Iraq Stock Exchange.
Right now, the exchange is pretty young, having just opened on June 24th, 2004. The exchange is pretty young when it comes to its technology as well; right now, all trades are written down on a big white board at the exchange headquarters, which is located in a heavily protected area of Baghdad. There is not much in terms of trading activity (compared to say, the Nasdaq), but volume is growing. The CEO of the Iraq Stock Exchange is currently on a campaign to try and get foreign money to invest in the market. It's been a bit of a tough go though, as investors are unsure about how safe their money is in Iraq. The United States government is helping the stock exchange to improve its technology, and soon the exchange will have electronic trading and computers for all of its brokers. Iraq also has its own regulatory body, called the Iraq Securities Commission.
According to my count, there are currently 93 publicly traded companies on the Iraq Stock Exchange right now. This includes a number of the major hotels, banks and investment firms operating in Iraq, including the Bank of Baghdad, the Commercial Bank of Iraq and the Ishtar Sheraton Hotel. The base currency for the exchange is the dinar.
There are currently fifty brokers executing trades for the Iraq Stock Exchange according to their web site. The largest broker in terms of volume in 2006 was the Al-Hayat Company, who were responsible for 22.07 billion in trading volume. Other brokers that contributed significantly to the volumes on the exchange were the Al-Karmal Company and the Middle East Bank.
The CEO of the Iraq Stock Exchange is Taha Abdulsalam, who obtained a master's degree from Baghdad University and worked in the research department of the government-run stock exchange in the early 90's. This stock exchange was dismantled after Hussein fell in 2003.
The Iraq Stock Exchange has a LOT of work ahead. They have only secured two smallish foreign investments so far. If they can generate interest in their exchange, it would greatly benefit many in the country, as foreign investment can quickly speed up the building of the infrastructure in a country (see China as a shining example.)
Filed under: General Knowledge