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"Iran Business Responsibility" launches website

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is working with International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on the "Iran Business Responsibility" (IBR) project.

Visit the project website launched in June 2017, and explore the articles below for insights on the new investments in Iran.

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30 September 2016

Renault Signs Deal for Venture in Iran as Its Economy Opens

Author: Associated Press

Renault has reached a deal with Iran's government to open a plant making at least 150,000 vehicles a year, as European companies race for a share of Iran's market now that international sanctions have been lifted.

The French carmaker announced the deal with the Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran on Friday, during the Paris auto show.

The plant in a Tehran suburb will produce Duster and Symbol cars starting in 2018. Renault will be majority shareholder, and have its own distribution network in Iran for the first time, according to a company statement. Financial details were not released.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said Iran could have demand for 2 million cars in 2020, making it a market with "undeniable potential."


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4 October 2016

Siemens to Upgrade Iran’s Rail Infrastructure

Author: Christopher Alessi, Wall Street Journal

FRANKFURT— Siemens AG signed an agreement late Monday to upgrade Iran’s aging railway infrastructure, in the German engineering conglomerate’s latest effort to capitalize on the Islamic Republic’s nascent economic opening.

As part of the deal agreed with Iran’s industrial MAPNA Group, Siemens plans to supply components for 50 diesel-electric trains to be developed locally for the country’s state-owned railway system, the company said.

The deal was signed during an official German delegation visit to Iran that included the economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and German business officials.

The agreement comes on the heels of a series of contracts signed last March between Siemens and MAPNA to develop Iran’s energy infrastructure, including a license agreement under which MAPNA would acquire the technological know-how to manufacture Siemens F-Class gas turbines. Siemens also has plans to partner with MAPNA to help modernize Iran’s power and electrification system, the firms have said.


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5 October 2016

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen reaches deal to make 200,000 cars in Iran

Author: Seattle Times (AP)

"PSA group reaches deal to make 200,000 cars a year in Iran"

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen has reached a deal with Iran’s biggest carmaker to open a plant producing 200,000 vehicles a year, renewing an old partnership with Iran Khodro Co following the lifting of international sanctions.

The two companies showcased five models on Wednesday to be produced by IKAP, a joint venture first announced in January during a visit to France by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Peugeot was a major player in Iran’s car market before sanctions were imposed. PSA group says negotiations for the deal began before the sanctions were lifted.

During the Paris auto show last week, French carmaker Renault announced it had reached a deal to make at least 150,000 vehicles a year with the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran.

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8 October 2016

Sign of Thaw With Iran: American Cellphones Ringing in Tehran

Author: Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times

... Until recently, an American phone in Iran would not receive any signal. But that has quietly changed. This past week, a spokeswoman for AT&T acknowledged that the company was providing voice and data service in Iran to its customers with American phones through a partnership with a local firm, RighTel. An employee at the Iranian company, fully owned by a state entity, confirmed the partnership.

While the announcement that Airbus and Boeing will provide dozens of jetliners to Iranian carriers garnered worldwide headlines last month, the deal that AT&T clinched in March, making it the only American provider to offer phone service in Iran, flew under the radar.

The agreement is one of the few signs that the promises President Hassan Rouhani made long ago of welcoming Western businesses and ending Iran’s isolation are at last beginning to be realized.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Masoud Daneshmand, an official at the Iran Chamber of Commerce, said of AT&T’s partnership with RighTel. “The fact that phones are working in Iran and the United States is a sign of good will on both sides.”

 ... It remains unclear how AT&T and RighTel will settle accounts. A representative for AT&T said the company would not disclose information on financial arrangements made with the Treasury or with its Iranian partner. One possible clue: RighTel is owned by theSocial Security Organization of Iran, a state entity that has large stakes in several domestic banks.

The Treasury would also not speak about the deal, saying in a statement that it “generally does not comment on specific licenses or engagement with private parties.”

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16 October 2016

Iran moves to woo foreign investors: Trade barriers have been relaxed after the nuclear deal, but sanctions remain an obstacle

Author: Financial Times, Madison Marriage and Najmeh Bozorgmehr

The Iranian government has invited a prestigious group of international investors that includes the Heinz Family Office, Capital Group and Fidelity to visit the country following the relaxation of trade barriers between Iran and the west in January.

The 20-20 Investment Association, a group of influential investors overseeing $7tn of assets, received the invitation from Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, after the implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement between the country and six leading powers at the start of the year.

James Donald, head of emerging markets at Lazard Asset Management, the US fund company that oversees $174bn of assets, and a board member of the 20-20 association, said the invitation reflected the Iranian government’s desire to attract more foreign investors.

The global agreement involved Tehran committing to scale down its nuclear activities in return for the removal of sanctions that prevented foreign companies from investing in Iranian businesses.

Mr Donald said: “The group at this stage has not accepted the invitation. An awful lot of large government pension plans have restrictions on Iranian investments and [on] any company that does business in Iran. There is talk of [the remaining sanctions being removed]. I think there would have to be a federal law change [for banks and asset managers to move en masse into the Iranian market].”

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18 October 2016

Calling Tehran: Vodafone Leaps Into Iran With Internet-Service Deal

Author: Stu Woo and Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal

Vodafone Group PLC intends to work with an Iranian internet-service provider to help improve its local networks, becoming the first big Western firm to jump into Iran after the U.S. moved earlier this month to make it easier for companies to do business in the Islamic Republic.

The U.K. telecommunications carrier said Tuesday that it plans to assist Iran’s HiWEB, a small, privately owned operator, in modernizing infrastructure and expanding landline and mobile internet services for personal and business customers.

Vodafone didn’t disclose details, including any planned investment in the venture. It said that it wouldn’t take an equity stake in the project.

Vodafone isn’t the first—or even the biggest—Western company to enter Iran after world powers started lifting global sanctions earlier this year, following Iran’s agreement to curb its nuclear program. But the move comes just a little over a week after the U.S. moved to ease regulatory hurdles that have kept many Western companies at bay.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury loosened restrictions on Iran’s ability to trade in the U.S. dollar, and widened the pool of potential business partners in Iran for non-American investors.

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31 October 2016

The Statement by Ahmed Shaheed - The United Nations General Assembly – Session 71

Author: Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

...[final paragraph]: I encourage the international community to continue to find effective and creative ways to engage with Iran on human rights as they seek to broaden their political, economic and cultural relationships with the Government. Increasing engagement with the Iranian government and continued focus on its human rights record are not, and need not, be mutually exclusive realities. As I have said before, Iran’s reengagement with the world provides a golden opportunity not only to reach out to world leaders, but also international businesses seeking to invest in Iran, to do their part in ensuring respect for human rights in the country. But such engagement, must not proceed at the expense of clear, strong and public support for better human rights protection, without which there are no real long term dividends.

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1 November 2016

Iran opens for Telecoms Connections: Western telecoms and media groups look to strike deals in untapped market

Author: Nic Fildes and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times

When Twitter’s Jack Dorsey tweeted Hassan Rouhani in 2013 to ask if any of the citizens of his country were able to read the Iranian president’s tweets, he probably did not expect a response. To the surprise of many in the West, Mr Rouhani quickly shot back a friendly missive that access to global information for Iranians “is their #right”...

The telecoms sector is largely state-owned, with expectations among analysts that parts of the market will be privatised in the near future. Iran is already the largest mobile phone market in the Middle East with more than 103m mobile connections and 47m smartphones — mostly Samsung and Huawei models — in use in 2015, according to Analysys Mason.

An already long list of international telecoms companies is lining up to enter the Iranian market to improve internet access and mobile services. Vodafone, Telecom Italia, AT&T and Nokia have rushed to get into Iran in recent months, striking deals with local groups, while Orange and Interoute, the London-based networking company, also plan to have a presence in the country. There have been 52 applications for licences to operate telecoms services since sanctions were lifted.

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7 November 2016

Iran launches first post-sanctions bidding round

Author: Walid Khadduri, Middle East Online

Oil Ministry hopes to sign at least $10 billion worth of energy deals by April 2017 as it launches new Iran Petroleum Contract

The state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) called on international oil companies to participate in a pre-qualification process for new upstream tenders it plans to launch. NIOC plans several rounds of tenders for exploration and production of oil and gas projects, the Oil Ministry news service Shana stated.

The Oil Ministry said it hopes to sign at least $10 billion worth of energy deals by April 2017 as it launches the new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), which replaces a buy-back model contract. The IPC was approved in September after much wrangling within the Iranian political hierarchy.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was opposed to the IPC, which its leaders said would threaten the elite unit’s extensive economic interests. Brigadier-General Ebadollah Abdollahi, head of the IRGC’s industrial conglomerate Khatam al-Anbiya, said: “No one is against foreigners coming. We can have some cooperation with them.”

Khatam al-Anbiya, Iran’s largest industrial contractor, opposed plans by the Oil Ministry to put international firms in charge of major projects.

Abdollahi said the IRGC was “ready to cooperate with foreign investors, provided that the engineering and implementations be undertaken by Iranians”....

The return of international oil companies to Iran would encroach on the IRGC’s economic interests.

“The government is in need of much cash to finance development projects. Oil rent is the most important such source that is available to Iran,” First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said during a mid-October industry conference in Tehran...

Since the lifting of international sanctions last January, six agreements have been signed: Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe for licensing and engineering equipment for a methanol plant; Total, for an ethane cracker feasibility study; South Africa’s PetroSA for gas-to-liquids (GTL) research cooperation; Germany’s Linde for olefin feed; British-Dutch Shell for ethane and GTL feasibility study; and Japan’s Sojitz Corporation for a methanol to propylene plant feasibi

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8 November 2016

Total Signs Major Deal with Iran

Author: Andrew Callus, Reuters

"Total has become the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Iran since sanctions were lifted"

France's Total has signed a deal with Iran to further develop its part of the world's largest gas field, becoming the first western energy company to sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year.

Total confirmed on Tuesday it had signed a heads of agreement with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the Phase 11 development of South Pars in the Gulf, which extends into Qatari waters where it is known as the North field.

The SP11 project will progress in two stages, the first costing an estimated $2 billion, Total said. The produced gas will be fed into Iran's gas network...

Foreign companies keen to tap into Iran's vast oil and gas reserves have so far made little inroads into the country despite the lifting of many sanctions earlier this year following a landmark agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran has pledged to open up its oil industry but foreign companies, including BP and Italy's Eni recently said they still have little information about Iranian oil fields and contract terms, hindering investment decisions...

Total said it would operate the SP11 project and have a 50.1 percent stake in it. Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company, will have a 19.9 percent stake while state-China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) [CNPET.UL] will have a 30 percent stake...

Total will develop the project in compliance with national and international laws and the investment will be undertaken without bank finance, he [Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne] told reporters.


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