Iran looks to open foreign funding sources for local firms

Iranian authorities, keen to roll out the red carpet to foreign investors, are taking steps to help local firms sell bonds abroad and Western fund managers are eager to buy.

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SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) – Iranian authorities, keen to roll out the red carpet to foreign investors, are taking steps to help local firms sell bonds abroad and Western fund managers are eager to buy.

While there could be headwinds from the incoming Trump administration in Washington, Iran offers fertile ground for investors: the World Bank classifies the country of 77 million as an upper-middle income nation. Its $425 billion economy is expected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2016-2018, it has diverse industry and a well-developed infrastructure.

Investors are eager but more than a year after international sanctions against Iran were removed in exchange for curbs on its disputed nuclear program, compliance risks may remain.

“We would be very interested,” said Lutz Roehmeyer, director at Landesbank Berlin Invest. “We have no exposure, and that would be a great first step, but eventually we would actually like to be invested in local currency.”

Iran’s capital marker regulator, the Securities and Exchange Organisation (SEO), is nonetheless encouraging local firms to explore alternatives to domestic lending, where rates remain above 20 percent. More info

By Bernardo Vizcaino and Karin Strohecker  www.metro.us

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