Economy, Business And Markets

Doha Bank Says Looking at “Regulatory Elements” to Enter Iran

Doha Bank Says Looking at “Regulatory Elements” to Enter Iran
Doha Bank Says Looking at “Regulatory Elements” to Enter Iran

Doha Bank, Qatar’s fourth largest lender by assets, said that while it expects to see consolidation in its (P)GCC operations in 2016, the bank is still eyeing expansion into new markets that may potentially include Iran.

“We are looking at options for new markets. It’s an opportunity in certain locations now — you have seen sanctions being lifted in certain countries, so if the regulators and shareholders approve, we will look at it. It is still subject to so many ifs and buts,” R. Seetharaman, chief executive officer of Doha Bank, told Gulf News.

Asked to confirm whether he was referring to Iran, the CEO declined to comment, but discussed the country saying, “The bigger picture is to recognize that sanctions are lifted, but it [the Iranian market] has to be fully operational. It’s still a work in progress. There are a lot of regulatory elements required, but as and when that happens, we’ll be ready.”

His comments come just a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in London, telling European banks they have nothing to fear in doing business with Iran. Major international banks have been reluctant to take that step especially since there are still certain sanctions that include a ban on Iran-linked transactions in US dollars.

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif, has said that  foreign banks are welcome to establish branches and correspondent offices. According to Iranian law, foreign firms can own up to 40% of banks’ shares in the mainland and 100% in free trade zones.