No nukes is good news as billions up for grabs if Iran is opened to trade
Published 04/04/2015 | 02:30
Iranian investment banker Ramin Rabii says he shouted in joy when he learned that Tehran and world powers had reached a deal which promises to lift economic sanctions on Iran. Then he called colleagues to discuss the business implications.
Rabii, managing director of Turquoise Partners, a Tehran-based investment firm with about €180m of assets under management, has been grappling for years with the results of the sanctions: unstable growth, high inflation, international banking restrictions and hard currency shortages.
The agreement on curbing Iran's nuclear programme, reached on Thursday, will - if confirmed in a final deal by a June 30 deadline - begin to ease those crippling problems for Turquoise and thousands of other Iranian firms.
"We've been preparing for this moment for 10 years," Rabii said, adding that in the months leading up to the deal Turquoise was in touch with hundreds of potential foreign investors about opportunities if sanctions were lifted.
He said the company now planned to develop its asset management and brokerage businesses, and would hold roadshows for investors in Europe and possibly Dubai.
Frozen out of the international banking system, its foreign trade slashed by the sanctions, Iran looks likely to become the biggest country to rejoin the global economy since post-Communist eastern Europe in the early 1990s.
The resulting boom could create tens of billions of dollars worth of business for both local and foreign companies and shift the economic balance in the Gulf, which has so far been heavily weighted towards the rich Gulf Arab oil exporting countries.
"Precautionary talks have already started between Iran and some big Western investors" in areas such as oil and autos, said Iranian-born economist Mehrdad Emadi of London's Betamatrix consultancy.
"Now there will be accelerating momentum."
He predicted annual growth of Iran's $420bn economy would rise by as much as 2 percentage points to over 5pc in the year after a final nuclear deal. It could accelerate further to 7 or 8pc in the following 18 months - matching the growth of Asia's "tiger economies" during their boom years.
Iran's trade with the European Union totalled €7.6bn last year but could balloon 400pc by 2018, Emadi said.
The complex web of financial, shipping, energy and technology sanctions woven by the US, the EU and the United Nations is expected to take years to remove, even if a nuclear agreement is reached and implemented. (Reuters)