Thomson Reuters Explores Business Opportunities in Iran
Thomson Reuters has said it is in talks with the Tehran Stock Exchange about potential opportunities in Iran. Is this a sign of change in the country’s relationship with the world?
Iran has been a thorny issue for Western powers in recent years, but as sanctions ease on the West Asian country, it seems that companies are becoming more interested in where it could take them.
Thomson Reuters has confirmed that it did in fact meet with representatives from the Tehran Stock Exchange earlier this week. The talks, which were carried out in London, did not lead to any formal agreements, but a company spokeswoman said they did allow both parties to “express mutual interest in exploring potential business opportunities should sanctions permit and the opportunity be aligned with our business objectives”.
Sanctions have been in place on Iran for some time, but under the terms of a deal brokered late last year between the country and six of the world’s biggest global powers, the measures have been eased for the first half of the year. It appears that this frontier market is actually seen as a big opportunity for some companies if it is permanently brought back into the international fold.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, chief executive of the Tehran Stock Exchange Hassan Qalibaf said that the meeting on Wednesday had focused on Thomson Reuters wanting to report and publish the exchange’s trading data.
This tells us two things. On the one hand, it is clear that Thomson Reuters believes there is an audience interested in how Tehran’s businesses are faring and what the country’s economic prospects might look like.
On the other, it also suggests that Tehran wants to open up important communication channels that will keep the world informed of its successes and pave the way for an influx of foreign investment.
Mr Qalibaf added that he had been accompanied to London by Iranian business leaders who are seeking to drum up interest in firms listed on the Tehran exchange. At the moment, the Journal says, just one per cent of listed shares are held by foreigners – by contrast, other Middle East exchanges have average figures closer to 60 per cent.
Domestic interest in the country has seen shares rise sharply. In fact, in 2013 Iran’s main index rose by 130 per cent thanks to the nation’s own investors. It looks as though the rest of the world is curious as to whether Iran’s companies really are as promising as locals believe.