Economy, Business And Markets

Bank Sepah to Reopen Rome Branch

Bank Sepah to  Reopen Rome Branch Bank Sepah to  Reopen Rome Branch

Bank of Italy has issued operation license for Bank Sepah's branch in Rome, Muhammad Kazem Choghazardi, the bank's CEO said on Sunday.

“Bank Sepah’s operations in Europe were halted in 2007 due to the sanctions imposed on the bank. However, the bank’s Rome branch has now received permission to resume operations following the lifting of the international sanctions on January 16,” the bank’s website quoted him as saying.

Sepah's operation in Italy was discussed by the Central Bank of Iran and the country’s top officials after President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Italy in January.

Choghazardi also noted that his bank is now ready to offer international services to Iranian and foreign businesses, namely opening letters of credit.

Bank Sepah is the only Iranian lender with a branch in Italy and accounted for a considerable part of two-way commerce in the past. The Bank of Italy took over control of the bank in March 2007 in compliance with a March 26 resolution of the UN Security Council, which called for a freeze on Bank Sepah, Iran's fifth-largest state-owned bank.

The world body removed Sepah and its international branches from sanctions list on January 17. Italy's Mediobanca and Unicredit as well as smaller banks like Banco Popolare have begun collaboration with Iran.  

In recent weeks some Iranian banks and their overseas branches have restarted operations in the wake of sanctions relief such as Bank Melli's affiliate in Russia known as 'Mir Business Bank', Melli Bank London plc and its branch in Hong Kong as well as three branches of Bank Mellat in Turkey.

Other banks are in the process of launching new overseas branches. Bank Saman has an eye on neighboring Turkey while Bank Pasargad is holding talks for opening branches in Paris and Rome. Pasargad had announced earlier that it is also exploring the possibility of establishing a foothold in Germany, Spain, Turkey and China, which could be in the form of wholly-owned branches, joint ventures with local partners or outright acquisitions.