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An Infidel Investor Among The Mullahs

Up Front: New World Order


IRAN ISN'T A POPULAR emerging market. But at least one money man from the Great Satan is braving the Islamic republic's bourse. James Rogers, former partner of investing wizard George Soros, says he has bought shares in Iran's 10 largest companies on the tiny (market cap: $1.7 billion) Tehran Stock Exchange.

Rogers, author of Investment Biker, a book about his motorcycle tours in search of investments, took a year to find an Iranian investment banker who would deal with him and started investing a year ago. "No one was executed," he says, so he has kept buying. Rogers, who hasn't been to Iran, won't disclose the amount. His stocks include shares in a food processor, an auto parts maker, and a cement company.

Thus far, his timing has been deft. The Tepix index, the Persian equivalent of the Dow, surged 45% last year. Rogers says that's due to optimism that Iran will soon open to outsiders. Another factor may be a recent Iranian ban on currency trading, in effect restricting its investors to domestic stocks.

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