February 11, 2008

Iran will launch its first investment banks next month as part of efforts to speed up privatisation and dodge U.S. restrictions on its banking sector, the Deputy Finance Minister told the Financial Times on Monday.

Heidari Kord Zangeneh said in an interview the three banks will help the Islamic Republic to sell all public companies by 2015, including steel, banking and telecoms operations.

“We are going to activate our private sector and our private banks… in order to fight against these (U.S.) sanctions,” Kord Zangeneh said, referring to the United Nations-imposed sanctions for Iran’s refusal to suspend nuclear activities which the West fears are aimed at making atom bombs.

“This is the first time we have had investment banks and they will do what other investment banks all over the world do. They will take share subscriptions and act as an intermediary between the privatisation organisation and the stock exchange,” he added. Two sets of U.N. sanctions since December 2006 combined with U.S. commercial pressure on European banks to cut business with Iran have led some — including HSBC, Deustche Bank, UBS and Credit Suisse — to close dollar transactions with Iran or cut ties altogether. The three new investment banks — Amin, Novin and Pasargad — will be run by consortia that include privately owned investment companies, some of which are affiliated to private banks.

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