Iran

Woori Bank launches service desk in #Iran

#SouthKorea’s Woori Bank has launched a Korea Desk in Iran to help Korean companies with their business activities in the Islamic Republic. Central Bank of Iran's deputy Gholam-Ali Kamyab said this move could prepare the ground for the opening of Woori branches in Iran. Korean companies will be able to use Woori Bank’s service in the Iranian bank or the Korean bank’s outlets in neighboring cities of Bahrain and Dubai for their businesses in Iran.

A new day for Islamic finance in Iran

The lifting of sanctions has not only enhanced Iran's economy but has also provided an opportunity for Shari'ah-compliant investment with diversification opportunities. Iran's Islamic banking assets are $482 billion, according to Dubai Government data from 2014. Islamic finance in Iran can benefit from the sheer volume of the post-sanction investments and such projects are reportedly high. This will in turn support the market growth and create growth opportunities for the banking system in Iran.

Iran’s Central Bank Chief Warns Banking-Access Issues Jeopardize Nuclear Deal

Iran’s central bank governor Valiollah Seif demanded the Obama administration take more steps to facilitate his country’s banking transactions world-wide and warned the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year could be at risk if the U.S. doesn’t act. The White House in response to Seif’s comments replied that the U.S. is abiding by the nuclear agreement. Iranian banks have been unable to process international money transfers and finance trade freely in the months since the deal went into effect in January. Iran also has faced obstacles in repatriating tens of billions of dollars of its oil revenues.

Iran looking to shift its funding needs to capital markets

Iran’s government plans to shift part of its borrowing from local corporate investors to the capital markets, a move that could stimulate trading in debt securities and help the economy recover from years of economic sanctions. The government is laying plans to offer a range of debt instruments in the markets, where they could be bought by institutional and individual investors, rather than placing debt directly with banks and Corps.
At present, Iran’s banking sector provides around 95% of all financing, with only a tiny portion sourced from the debt capital markets. Several efforts are under way, like the approval to use ijara sukuk..

Government of Iran issues Sukuk al Ijarah, banking relations normalising

The Iranian Ministry of Finance issued IRR 5 trillion of four-year lease-based Sukuk on 16 March. The bonds were sold through Iran Fara Bourse, Tehran’s over-the-counter market. The issue marks the first use by the Government of Iran of such bonds. Previously, in September 2015, another first had been notched up with the issuance of some $295 million in Islamic Treasury Bills on Iran Fara Bourse. Meanwhile, in banking, the State Bank of Pakistan called a special meeting of all banks/ financial institutions on 14 March 2016 to discuss progress made by the Pakistani banking sector for facilitating trade transactions with Iran. Later in March it was reported that Bank Melli Iran had expressed interest in opening a branch in Pakistan while Pakistan’s Habib Bank may open a branch in Iran.

U.S. says it's not deterring foreign banks in Iran

The United States is not standing in the way of foreign banks doing business with Iran, a senior U.S. official said, but his comments appeared unlikely to satisfy frustrated businessmen and Iranian officials. Most international sanctions against Iran's economy were lifted in January after Tehran implemented a deal with world powers to curb its nuclear programme. But Washington kept some sanctions that were originally imposed over missile proliferation and alleged support of terrorism. The fear of being caught up in those remaining sanctions has deterred most foreign banks from restoring links with Iran, angering the Iranian government.

Iranian banks open €480mn credit via IECB

Iranian banks have opened more than 480 million euros of credit through Iran-Europe Commercial Bank (IECB). An amount of 108 million euros of the total €480 million belongs to Bank of Industry and Mine while the rest are owned by other banks in the country including Mellat and Tejarat banks. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has announced that the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is up and running and there exist no barriers to opening LCs via SWIFT. Registered in Hamburg, Germany, the IECB officially welcomed international banking relations with Iran.

European banks willing to resume activities in Iran: official

European banks are showing eagerness to resume activities in Iran now that the sanctions are being lifted against the Islamic Republic, according to Ali Divandari, director of Iran’s Monetary and Banking Research Institute (MBRI). Divandari made the remarks in a press conference on Tuesday to expound on programs and objectives of “The 2nd Business and Banking Forum Iran Europe” which will be held in Tehran from March 5 to 7. The forum is to strengthen ties between Iranian and European banks and also boost cooperation between Iranian banks and foreign investors, Divandari stated. Divandari further stated that the forum will host about 60 foreign participants mainly from Germany.

Iranian financial institutions host first GCC-focused Investor Roadshow in Muscat, Oman

Iran’s leading financial conglomerate and senior members of Iranian government bodies met over 150 international investors in Muscat, Oman today to discuss inward investment opportunities across a range of Iran’s sectors and industries. The roadshow was hosted by Sina Financial & Investing Holding Co, Iran’s leading financial holding company. The agenda focused on opportunities created by the re-opening of the Iranian economy to foreign participation, as well as an in-depth discussion of Iran’s capital markets. The roadshow concluded with a business-to-business networking between Iranian and international delegates.

EU court rules Iranian banks assets should not been frozen

The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that the assets of Iran's Bank Mellat should not have been frozen from 2010, dismissing an appeal brought by the European Council. The Council, the grouping of the EU's 28 member states, froze the funds of a number of Iranian financial entities from 2010 to combat Iranian activities that could have led to it developing nuclear weapons. In Bank Mellat's case, the Council said that it engaged in conduct which supported and facilitated Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The court ruled that the reasoning set out did not enable Bank Mellat to establish which banking services it provided to which entities, particularly as the persons whose accounts it managed were not identified.

Iran remains off limits to US banks

Iran remains essentially off limits to US banks, despite the lifting of some US sanctions. The Obama administration in mid-January eased several restrictions on doing business with Iran, including former “secondary” sanctions that had threatened to penalize companies outside the US for their business with Iran, as well as some restrictions on Americans seeking to make inroads in the oil-rich country. Nevertheless, most “primary” sanctions tied to accusations that Tehran supports terrorism remain in effect, blocking US businesses from joining a rush by non-US companies to cash in on Iran’s potential revival. It means that US banks have little access to the oil-rich country compared to their rivals in other countries.

US sends mixed message to Europe on Iran sanctions

Since reaching the nuclear agreement that lifted economic sanctions on Iran, President Barack Obama has pledged to continue to punish foreign companies that do business with the regime’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. In theory, this will chill European investment in Iran because the IRGC, along with its front businesses, controls major portions of Iran’s economy in vital sectors such as oil, construction and banking. But despite recent reports of billions of dollars worth of new European investment in Iran, the US Treasury Department has seen no evidence that European companies are conducting transactions with the IRGC. Many sanctions experts question whether this is really possible.

Iran to India: Reactivate bank accounts with Indian banks, allow Iranian banks to open branches

Freed of international sanctions, Iran has asked India to reactivate its accounts with Indian banks and allow Iranian banks to open offices here. Keen to quickly normalise banking and commercial relations with the world, Tehran also wants UCO BankBSE -3.50 % to open a representative office in Iran. Tehran has already opened an account with IDBI Bank. Central Bank of Iran's vice governor Gholamali Kamyab has conveyed to Indian authorities that Bank Pasargad and Parsian Bank were keen to open representative offices in India while Saman Bank was interested in opening a subsidiary, they said. State Bank of India (SBI) has accounts of 11 Iranian banks including Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

Iran set to reshape global Islamic finance industry

Iran currently accounts for more than 40% of the world’s total Islamic banking assets, or around $482bn. Iran could easily cross the $1tn-asset mark by 2018 given the urgency for cash-strapped Iranian public and private companies to raise liquidity after years of isolation from the international finance industry. Analysts expect that a large number of sukuk and other Islamic financing vehicles will hit the world market soon. Adding to private companies, the country requires funds for its infrastructure development programmes earmarked for the next decade worth an estimated $1tn. However, analysts point out that the road back into the global finance system for Iran could be bumpy as the long isolation withheld Iranian banks from implementing globally accepted reporting and compliance standards, and restoring ties of its formerly stand-alone banking system to global financial institutions could prove regulatory and technically difficult.

European banks hesitate on Iran, wary of US fines

Western companies have been rushing into Iran for a part of post-sanctions business action but European banks, still reeling from punitive US fines over links to the country, are waiting on the sidelines until they feel it is safe to do business with Tehran. France has already hailed a new era after welcoming Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who sealed a host of post-sanctions deals last week. But when it comes to high finance, there is hesitation, at least on the part of European banks. The hefty fines levied on these financial institutions during the sanctions has made them particularly wary. European banks are not only confronted with potential sanctions risks, but also other exposure points under international banking regulations and practices.

Iranian bank Pasargad willing to invest in Europe

Many Iranian banks have created a roadmap to open up to the world. Bank Pasargad, the second-largest finance company of Iran with billions of dollars of blocked assets in many countries worldwide, is one of them. According to Mostafa Beheshtirooy, a member of the executive board at Bank Pasargad, the bank has started conducting research into Turkey, Germany, Spain and China, adding that business could be done via a local partner or a take-over of a bank. Beheshtirooy said that, despite the negative impacts of the rising dollar and falling oil prices, the bank's total assets will reach $70 billion; in stark contrast to the current $19 billion it holds.

Bahrain moves to close Iran's Future Bank

Bahrain's central bank said on Tuesday it is taking steps to close down Iranian-owned Future Bank, which is based in the Gulf state. Bahrain's central bank has not elaborated on its reasons for the action. Future Bank, based in Manama, is a commercial bank which was founded as a joint venture between two Iranian banks - Bank Saderat and Bank Melli - and Bahrain's Ahli United Bank. The bank's assets stood at 569.4 million dinars ($1.51 billion) at the end of September 2015. On Monday, Ebtisam al-Arrayed, head of regulatory policy at the central bank, said that the regulator had yet to make a decision about Future Bank after placing it under its administration last year, along with Iran Insurance Co - the Bahrain branch of an Iranian insurer.

Griffon Starts $108 Million Fund to Invest in Iranian Stocks

Griffon Capital, a Tehran-based firm set up by a group of international and Iranian investors in anticipation of Iran’s nuclear deal, is seeking to raise 100 million euros ($108.2 million) by the end of the year for a new offshore fund specializing in the country’s stocks. Griffon’s Iran Flagship Fund, domiciled in the Cayman Islands, is an open-ended vehicle investing mainly in the Tehran Stock Exchange and Iran Fara Bourse, the company said. Griffon will start pitching the fund in the U.K. next month. Iran is opening up to foreign investors after the lifting of international sanctions earlier this month ended a decade of isolation. Last week Charlemagne Capital Ltd. and Turquoise Partners started an institutional fund to buy Iranian securities.

Iran, Russia to Boost Banking Ties

Mina Mehrnoush, the head of planning at Iran’s Organization for Trade Development, said three Russian banks have voiced their readiness to promote banking relations with the Islamic Republic in the near future in a bid to boost commercial cooperation between Tehran and Moscow. Mehrnoush also said that during a recent visit to Russia by an Iranian trade delegation, “good meetings” were held with three Russian banks, namely Mir Business Bank, Tempbank and RFC Bank. Mir Business Bank, which is the agent bank of Bank Melli Iran, agreed to provide good facilities and open proper credit lines for Iran, she said. The Iranian trade official went on to say that other issues were also discussed in her meetings with Russian banking officials, including opening accounts for Iranian companies without having to make a trip to Russia.

Here’s How Iran Will Rejoin the Global Financial System

For Iran to resume business with the global banking world - for the first time since 2012 - its banks need to be linked to overseas lenders on SWIFT. The system, the Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, is used to transmit payments and letters of credit. A senior official with Iran's central bank said that all the private and state-owned banks have taken the necessary bureaucratic steps, regarding rejoining the SWIFT system. While international banks are expected to link up with their Iranian counterparts via SWIFT, Iran will also be looking to encourage foreign institutions to expand involvement in the country’s financial system. But for many foreign banks, there are concerns about being caught up in ongoing U.S. sanctions.

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