"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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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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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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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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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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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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21 September 2016

Airbus and Boeing win US licence for Iran sales

Author: Financial Times

Airbus and Boeing have gained clearance from US authorities for multibillion-dollar aircraft deals with Iran — marking a significant milestone in the Middle Eastern country’s return to the international marketplace since certain sanctions were lifted in January.

The US green light for Airbus’s sale of 17 single- and twin-aisle aircraft and Boeing’s deal to sell 80 passenger jets to Iran Air offers proof that it is now possible to trade with the country without breaching complex rules that still prohibit the involvement of US entities or finance providers in trade deals.

Airbus’s agreement, which will be denominated in euros to avoid breaching these rules, is believed to be first significant trade deal to be approved by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control. Approval of the Boeing sales came just hours after that for Airbus.

Airbus and Tehran reached a provisional agreement on the sale of 118 aircraft, worth an estimated $25bn at list prices, just days after sanctions were lifted at the start of the year. An accord, which must still be finalised, was signed in Paris in the presence of France’s President François Hollande and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.


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7 September 2016

Iran to invest $18bln in Information, Communications Technology

Author: Zawya

"Iran to Invest $18bln in Information, Communications Technology, says Minister"

Tehran, Sept 6, IRNA - Iran has planned to invest 16 billion euros in the area of ICT (Information and Communications Technology), Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi has announced. The investment will be made by tgeh state and private sectors in the country in the next five years, Vaezi said in his address to Iran Connect 2016 conference that started Tuesday for two days. One fourth of that investment will be made by the government and the private sector will be responsible for the rest, the minister added. He announced that Iran also welcomes foreign investment in ICT. 'Iran will prepare the grounds for it (foreign investment),' Vaezi added.



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31 August 2016

French Carrier Orange Pursues Stake in Iranian Wireless Firm

Author: Wall Street Journal

"French Carrier Pursues Stake in Iranian Wireless Firm"


France’s Orange SA has entered preliminary talks to buy a piece of Iran’s largest cellular operator in what would mark the first acquisition of a stake in a major Iranian firm by a Western company since nuclear sanctions were lifted in January.

Orange, France’s largest telecom company, is one of several European companies that have held discussions about taking a stake in Mobile Telecommunication Co. of Iran, according to people familiar with the matter. The names of the others couldn’t immediately be learned.

A deal would come on the heels of the lifting of international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and other nations say was working toward producing a nuclear bomb, something Tehran has denied.

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28 August 2016

Persian rugs enjoy post-sanctions boom US sales soar, providing a rare bright spot for Iran

Author: Monavar Khalaj, Financial Times

The US was Iran’s major market for Persian rugs and the sanctions caused total carpet exports to drop by 30 per cent — the embargo meant no American could buy, sell or import Persian rugs, even if they were purchased outside of the Islamic republic.

But now, with many of the west’s sanctions lifted after Tehran reached a historic nuclear deal with western powers last year, the industry is enjoying a boom as sales to America soar...

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26 August 2016

Banks cannot invest in Iran without US guarantees

Author: Gillian Tett, Financial Times

This tale is a sad example of how uncoordinated Washington’s policy can be

...In theory, there are reasons why non-American banks might like to grab at this chance. European banks are hungry to find high-return business opportunities, given that interest rates are low in the west. Meanwhile, banks such as Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and HSBC have long histories in Iran — and clients who want to do business there. Last month, for example, Siemens and Rolls-Royce started talks on new energy investments.

But there is a multibillion-dollar catch. Since 2010, the DoJ has fined non-American banks some $15bn for alleged global infractions of sanctions, anti-money laundering and antiterrorism rules. This includes an eye-watering $8.9bn fine levied in 2014 against BNP Paribas over deals with Iran, Cuba and Sudan...

Unsurprisingly, this sorry piece of history leaves European and Asian banks very nervous and they have asked for watertight guarantees that the DoJ will not penalise them if they heed Mr Kerry’s appeal. He has hitherto been unable, or unwilling, to persuade the department to do this...

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