Oct. 31, 2016


Dr. Ali Ashraf Afkhami

Iran

Dr. Ali Ashraf Afkhami

Chairman & Managing Director, Bank of Industry and Mine

TBY talks to Dr. Ali Ashraf Afkhami, Chairman & Managing Director of Bank of Industry and Mine, on the role banks play in attracting investment.

BIO

Dr. Ali Ashraf Afkhami has been the Chairman of the Bank of Industry and Mine since 2013. He was previously the Chairman of the Social Security Organization and held different positions in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Also the Chairman of Karafarin Bank, he has more than 36 years of management experience in big corporations and the investment market. He is a mechanical engineer from Amir Kabir University and holds a master's of governmental management.

What role do banks play in attracting foreign investment into national projects?

This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bank of Industry and Mine. In 1956 we were the first development bank in Iran, and although we have experienced many challenges during these years, we have always stuck to the vision of progress and development of the country. In this regard, we are not a commercial bank; we mainly participate in the financing of different projects. We have the human capital, the knowledge, and the experience to conduct projects in all types of industries, except agriculture and housing. We are experts in a wide range of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, textiles, food processing, the auto industry, home appliances, mining, steel mills, cement, and tile manufacturing. Moreover, Iran is renowned for its oil and gas resources. We are among the top-three countries in the world reserve-wise, production-wise, and, hopefully, after sanctions, export-wise. We want to focus on the areas where Iran has a competitive advantage, and the energy sector is definitely one of the areas we can depend on. Our portfolio is strong in financing projects in the petrochemicals field.

What are the most important projects you have financed?

In the past two-and-a-half years, we have focused on infrastructure with the expansion of the rail network. The first high-speed train developed between Tehran and Isfahan was financed by the Bank of Industry and Mine. We have also been awarded with a contract to finance another high-speed train between Tehran and Mashhad. We are involved in power generation as well, being the first bank to finance power plants in Iran. This is a great market for foreign investors, as we need to develop 3,000 MW in power generation annually. Moreover, we have financed desalination plants in the Persian Gulf. Such a megaproject could be replicated in the coming years, and we welcome other banks joining us to form a syndication for financing. Ports like Jask or Chabahar would be export terminals for the globe and neighboring countries. We want to be considered the developers of the country, which is why the market share in the industry and mining sector is over 16%.

What is the position of the bank to resume relations with European banks?

After sanctions, the door has been opened but not as fast as we expected. The bank was prepared to meet the international standards of the world's banking system even before sanctions, which makes me believe we are pioneers in this sense. It is a must for any bank in Iran to meet Basel III standards, and this means achieving a capital adequacy ratio over 12%. On the same day of the implementation of the JCPOA in January 2016, we were the first bank to be reconnected to the SWIFT network. We have resumed correspondent banking relations with 38 different banks from 18 countries, and another 22 banks are in the pipeline. Among European banks, Italy took the lead, and Germany will surpass it in the next two months. We are doing normal business with France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. We are a major shareholder of the European-Iranian Bank (EiH), a strong bank based in Hamburg, which since the first day started to reestablish relations with Iranian banks. This is a great tool to facilitate relations with European firms. After being forced out of the market, we are back to contribute to the business of Iran and the region, as there are many opportunities in neighboring countries to cooperate with European companies. We can play a great role in connecting those firms to these countries, and Iran could be a platform for doing business and boosting the prosperity of the region and the world.

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