Economy, Business And Markets

High Bar Set for Foreign Investment

High Bar Set for Foreign InvestmentHigh Bar Set for Foreign Investment

Hot on the heels of this month’s historic nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, corporate giants are rushing to enter the country, which is considered the last emerging market still largely closed to westerners. But at a trade conference last week in Vienna—the first since the deal was sealed—Tehran made clear it is primarily interested in high-end investment, not asset grabs.

Instead of cash and wares, the Islamic Republic wants foreign giants to bring technologies, wrote the Wall Street Journal.

“Iran is not the same market as a decade ago because of technological advance in capability,” the country’s industries minister, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said at the gathering. “We are looking for a two-way trade as well as cooperation in development, design and engineering.”

The agreement, signed on July 14, will lead to the lifting of European and American sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.

At the Vienna conference, backroom meetings set the tone of the relationships Iran wants to foster.

Seyyed Mojtaba Mirsoheil, president of Iranian technology firm TUV Pars Raisen, was beaming as he carried a voluminous white folder with the words “Sales and purchase agreement” written on it.

He had just signed a preliminary joint-venture agreement with Austria’s powertrains manufacturer AVL Schrick to develop clean car engines. Roger Wildemann, AVL’s managing director, confirmed through a spokesman that the deal had been signed.

“Before the nuclear agreement, it was not possible to execute” the deal, Mirsoheil said, adding that talks “accelerated” after July 14.

In another room, Mohammad Hassan Peyvandi, the deputy head of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company, was meeting Christian Bruch, an executive at German gas technology company Linde.

After exiting the meeting, Peyvandi said he had discussed possible opportunities for Linde in “cold boxes”, sophisticated systems used to liquefy gas in petrochemical plants.

A spokesman for Linde said it is “currently in so-called pre-business talks” with Iran.