Iran in talks with China, Russia lenders on finance hub plan Investment
Iran plans to set up a financial centre on the free zone at Qeshm island as it seeks to attract financial institutions to a market of 80mn people.
Chinese and Russian banks are seeking to set up representative offices in the area, Farhad Taghizadeh-Hesary, senior adviser to the Qeshm Investment and Development Co, said in an interview. One of Japan’s largest banks is also negotiating with officials on establishing a presence, he said, declining to identify the banks.
“The aim for this financial centre isn’t to look onto Qeshm, but to be a window onto the mainland.” he said by phone. “There is much interest to enter Iran.”
Iran’s economy has traditionally relied on oil revenue and consumption by the internal market. That market provides opportunities for retail banking and project finance as the country vies to overhaul its infrastructure and spend billions of dollars expanding airports, transportation links and its energy sector after the lifting of economic sanctions in January. The International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to expand 4% in the 12 months to March 2017.
“We have lots of feasible projects in different sectors that are interesting to foreign investors,” Taghizadeh-Hesary said. “However, one of the bottlenecks is the lack of access to cheap finance. The financial centre can help us access cheap finance,” he said.
Iran’s banks are financially under pressure because of the lack of access to international capital,” said Payam Afzali, managing director and head of investment banking at Kian Capital, a Tehran-based investment banking and asset management firm. “They’ve had to take the burden of financing the country’s economy for a prolonged time, so they are under pressure,” he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who made the lifting of sanctions his top pursuit during his first term ending next year, is betting on an influx of foreign investors and international companies to help lift his country’s economy, which still suffers from inflation and chronic youth unemployment. At stake is his ability to win a second term in the 2017 presidential election.
‘Contract signed with Boeing to purchase 100 planes’
Iran has signed a historic agreement with Boeing Co to purchase 100 jetliners, concluding several stages of negotiations, an Iranian newspaper has reported.
The plane maker has applied for a licence from the US Treasury to permit the deal and the final details will be revealed once government approvals are obtained, Ali Abedzadeh, director of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, said in an interview with the Iran newspaper.
The transaction would be the Chicago-based plane maker’s first in Iran since sanctions were lifted from the nation in January and follows a $27bn agreement with Airbus Group for 118 planes, including the A380 and A350 models. Iran’s efforts to upgrade its ageing air fleet may be complicated by regulatory hurdles, with manufacturers required to obtain licences from the US Treasury Department and some remaining sanctions making it difficult to arrange financing.
Iran expects to finalise a contract with European plane maker Airbus within 30 days as the plane maker has received a “promise” from the US Treasury that it will get its licence within 10 days, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, deputy minister for roads and urban development, told Fars News in an interview.