Iran is drawing up plans for large-scale privatisation of its major industries – and is tapping the UAE’s expat population for potential buyers.
Companies such as Iran Air, the Iranian National Gas Company and at least three leading banks are among the state-owned firms set to be placed in public ownership in the next 12 months.
A delegation from the Islamic Republic visited Dubai and China as part of an informal road show across Asia to seek out investors.
Up for sale are Bank Saderat, Bank Tejarat, Bank Refah, Petropars, Petroiran, South Engineering Services and Turbine Industrial Equipment Company, and North Drilling, according to Tehran Stock Exchange sources. As much as 80 per cent of mineral and industrial companies in Iran will be privatised by March 19, 2008.
“Iranian expatriates all over the world are major investors in the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE). The Iranians in Europe, the United States and the Middle East are major investors in the market,” said Mohammed E Jahandoost, TSE’s international department director.
“Many companies are listed on the TSE and I know that state-owned banks, airlines and gas companies plan to list after privatisation,” said Jahandoost. According to studies conducted by the Iranian Government, about three million Iranians living abroad hold a total of $1.3 trillion (Dh4.7trn) in assets and about $900 billion (Dh3.3trn) of these are believed to be in the US. The UAE, which holds the second largest share of overseas Iranian assets, is home to 45,000 Iranian nationals and more than 9,000 companies have been formed in the UAE with Iranian partners.
Naser Hasanpour, executive vice-president of the Iranian Business Council in Dubai, said: “The delegation presented a lot of investment opportunities. If the privatisation is well managed, a lot of investors from inside and outside Iran will participate.”
TSE also have plans to establish a new bank, the Persian Investment Bank.