The regional capital markets in the Middle East and North Africa recorded a twenty-fold increase in capital raised during the first quarter through three IPOs which soared to $1.6 billion compared to last year's $82.8 million through four IPOs, according to Ernst & Young’s 2013 Q1 MENA IPO  update. This is the highest Q1 value since 2008, said the E&Y  in its report. The three regional IPOs in first quarter of 2013 represented a 374.3 per cent increase from the $339.8 million raised in the last quarter, it stated. However there was a 25 per cent decrease in the deal volume during the first quarter, the report added. Phil Gandier, Mena head of Transaction Advisory Services, E&Y, said, "Q1’13 posted the strongest results for the first quarter of the year since 2008. However, the majority of the value is attributed to a large ticket telecommunications IPO in Iraq." "This sector is traditionally associated with large value transactions and the high Q1 performance will be sustainable if we start to see similar large value transactions on a regular basis which would bolster the regions capital markets," he stated. Of the three IPOs, two came to market in Saudi Arabia while one was reported in Iraq. The largest issuance was in Iraq, with Asiacell  Communications raising $1.3 billion, followed by Northern Region Cement Company in Saudi Arabia that raised $240 million and National Medical Care Company in Saudi Arabia that raised $97.2 million, said Phil..“Over 40 per cent of investors in the Middle East and Africa stated a preference to invest overseas, as evidenced in Ernst & Young’s recent institutional investor study. Therefore, the challenge remains whereby more domestic deal activity would be a key driver for stronger IPO activity and growth in the Mena region,” he added.