Kuwaiti telecommunications provider Zain says it will set up a holding company for its Iraq operations as it prepares to sell a stake in the division to the public.

Zain says it is offering 55.9 million shares in the new Al-Khatem Telecommunications Company beginning Tuesday. It says this is a procedural step ahead of the stock market listing.

Zain is one of three telecoms that acquired Iraqi operating licenses at a cost of $1.25 billion in 2007. The licenses require them to offer at least a quarter of their shares to the public.

Zain rival Asiacell raised close to $1.3 billion through its initial public offering of a 25 percent stake earlier this year. The IPO was one of the region's largest share offers in years.