FastIraq, Northern Gulf Partners and Dar Es Salaam Investment Bank (an HSBC Subsidiary) Complete Landmark Iraqi Debt Transaction

By Northern Gulf Partners, PRNE
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pioneering loan boosts Internet connectivity in Iraq

BAGHDAD, April 15, 2010 - FastIraq, one of Iraq's leading providers of Internet and fiber optic
connectivity, has received a senior debt facility from Dar Es Salaam
Investment Bank ("DES"), a subsidiary of HSBC. Northern Gulf Partners
("NGP"), Iraq's leading investment advisory firm, served as exclusive
financial advisor to FastIraq. This landmark transaction will allow FastIraq
to supply Internet connectivity and dedicated data capacity to Iraqi retail
and wholesale consumers, connecting more than 100,000 homes and offices in

"The Internet is extremely popular among Iraqi individuals and
businesses. Widespread access to fast, high-quality connectivity is key to
Iraq's future as a modern economy and the Government of Iraq is committed to
the growth of the sector," said Mr. Kassim Mohammed AL-Hassani, ITPC Director
General, Ministry of Communications. "This pioneering transaction between
FastIraq and Dar Es Salaam Bank will help to catalyze additional investment
in Iraq's broadband infrastructure," Mr. AL-Hassani continued.

Iraq's high-speed Internet penetration, at 5%, is low but growing quickly
at a rate of 20% annually. Demand for broadband is currently about 10x
available supply and increasing rapidly. Iraq's 7-8% annual GDP growth is
among the world's highest.

The loan is historically significant, representing a shift in Iraqi
credit culture away from asset-based lending towards a more innovative,
cash-flow-based approach. James Hogan, CEO of HSBC in Iraq said, "Through Dar
Es Salaam Investment Bank, HSBC is committed to supporting the long-term
development of the Iraqi economy. We are keen to help the future growth of a
strong telecommunications infrastructure in Iraq through supporting companies
such as FastIraq." The terms of the debt facility were not disclosed.

Mr. Tim Moore, CEO of FastIraq, explained the facility's importance.
"This allows a growing business to expand alongside the rapidly improving
Iraqi economy and provide services and connectivity to a market with high
demand. Without this progressive approach to lending by DES, this may not
have been possible."

The transaction has widespread implications for other business
borrowers in Iraq who seek access to credit, but lack traditional assets,
such as real-estate, to provide as collateral for the loan. As other banks
begin to follow the cash-flow-based lending approach pioneered in Iraq by
DES, this development will open access to financing for healthy, growing
businesses across the country.

Chris Ruth, Managing Partner of NGP stated, "We are excited to
play a role in driving the Iraqi financial services market forward. For
international and local investors alike, this innovative transaction
represents a highly positive development in Iraq's banking sector, with
increased opportunities for Iraqi businesses seeking expansion capital.

"We are also very proud of the role played by FastIraq, DES and NGP in
facilitating additional broadband availability in Iraq. Raising the Internet
penetration rate by 10% in Iraq would increase GDP by about 1.5%," Ruth

    For further information please contact:
    Patrick Mitchell

Patrick Mitchell, +1-212-887-1153, pm at

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