Zain on Thursday revealed that a court case brought against its Iraqi unit has been thrown out, paving the way for it to seek to overturn restrictions imposed against it.
The case, which was brought against both Zain and Iraq's Communications and Media Commission in regard to Zain's US$1.2 billion acquisition of Iraqna in late 2007, was dismissed by the Iraqi court, Zain said in a short statement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange.
Earlier this year Zain disclosed that it was being sued by an unnamed Iraqi telecom operator in connection with the acquisition. The plaintiff claimed that certain actions by the CMC and Zain prevented it from acquiring Iraqna. It claimed $4.5 billion in damages from Zain and a further $1 billion from the regulator and Zain combined.
Those damages are based on the revenues the unnamed telco lost out on by being unable to acquire Iraqna. At the telco's request, in January an Iraqi court appointed an administrator to manage and collect the revenues generated by the Iraqna subscribers that transferred to Zain through the acquisition and hold them in custody with a local bank pending the outcome of the case.
On Thursday Zain said it will apply to the court "as soon as possible" to have those restrictions removed, noting that since the case has been dismissed there is no legal justification for them to remain.
The plaintiff has 15 days to lodge an appeal, Zain said.
Zain began doing business in Iraq in 2007 when its subsidiary MTC Atheer won an operating licence there for $1.25 billion. It subsequently acquired existing Iraqi operator Iraqna and merged the two businesses under the Zain brand at the start of 2008. At the time the company had around 7 million customers in Iraq.
It has more than doubled that customer base since then, ending 2013 with 15.9 million subscribers. The Iraq business now accounts for almost 40% of Zain's group revenues and 37% of profits, based on Q1 2014 numbers.