(Reuters) - Major international companies are rushing to establish a position in Iran as the Islamic Republic re-opens for business after the lifting of international sanctions.
Up for grabs is access to a market with 80 million people and annual output of some $400 billion, making Iran the biggest economy to rejoin the global trading system since the Soviet Union broke up over two decades ago.
Some foreign companies will remain wary of investing in the country, however, because of concern that the sanctions could “snap back” if Tehran is later found not to be complying with the nuclear agreement.
Iran’s transport minister said that the country intended to buy 114 civil aircraft from Airbus in a deal worth more than $10 billion at catalogue prices. Airbus said on Saturday that it had not yet held commercial talks with Iran.
The Volkswagen-owned VOWG_pe.DE German carmaker said its representatives had traveled to Iran for talks with possible importers as it sought to enter Iran for the first time, seeing growing potential there for luxury cars.
Commerzbank, Germany’s number two lender, said it was considering the possibility of returning to Iran, less than a year after agreeing to pay $1.45 billion to U.S. authorities for violating sanctions.
Daimler said its trucks division had signed letters of intent with joint venture partners in Iran as part of the German company’s re-entry into the country.
Daimler said it would work with two Iranian companies to establish a joint venture for local production of Mercedes-Benz trucks and powertrain components. It was also eyeing returning as a shareholder in a former engine joint venture.
Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum is due to meet top Iranian oil officials later this week to discuss crude oil imports from Iran, a company source told Reuters. The company had been a major buyer of Iranian crude before sanctions were imposed.
Herrenknecht, a German tunneling company which helped build the Tehran metro in the 1990s, is ready to bid for projects in Iran, said the company’s chairman. He plans to travel to Iran in the next two months to talk to former business partners.
British Airways, part of IAG, hopes to start flying to Tehran in the near future, said the airline group’s chief executive on Monday.
India’s state-run National Aluminum Co Ltd (NALCO) is interested in setting up a $2 billion smelter complex in Iran, its chairman said, and will send a team of experts there to explore the opportunity.
Turkey’s largest mobile operator Turkcell is looking for deals to enter the Iranian market and is in touch with the country’s fixed line and mobile operators, its chief executive said.
Zurich Insurance said it would look into insurance cover for corporate customers doing business with Iran.
Compiled by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Trevelyan