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June 30, 2003

Trading and Research In Battered Baghdad

By Gregory Bresiger

The small Baghdad Stock Exchange is not functioning. Business conditions throughout Iraq are a mess. But despite the nation's many problems, one New York-based brokerage says the time is right to get in on the ground floor as the war-ravaged land rebuilds and privatizes much of its economy.

"We plan to be the first U.S.-based brokerage to offer execution and research in Iraq," said David Grayson, managing director at Auerbach Grayson. So Auerbach Grayson is looking for an Iraqi partner. Grayson notes that his firm was the first American financial institution to offer South African securities once Western trade sanctions were removed. It was also the first to offer Russian securities and Egyptian securities once those nations started allowing markets to function again, Grayson said.

"We're in 82 countries. We work with local partners. Our specialty is providing research, execution and clearance of foreign securities to U.S. institutions through local partners," Grayson added.

The Baghdad Stock Exchange has had problems with low volume. It has only had some 120 stocks and a market capitalization of less than $20 million, Grayson noted.