Iran Fund Seeks Foreigners to Expand $15 Billion of Assets

  • Social Security Investment preparing to sell about 50 firms
  • Shasta wants to expand upstream oil industry with foreign firm

Iran’s Social Security Investment Co., the investment arm of the country’s main social security provider, is seeking foreign partners to help manage and expand its $15 billion of assets after international sanctions ended.

The company, known as Shasta, plans to sell stakes in almost half of the 120 companies in its portfolio through share sales or private equity investments, according to its deputy Chief Executive Officer Azizollah Assari. Shasta has interests in pharmaceuticals, steel, cement and oil tanker operations.

"We have about 50 companies that we are preparing to sell, either fully or in part," Assari said in an interview in Tehran. "We have a five-year strategy to focus on large-scale companies, which have great potential but require development." 

Iran, holder of the world’s fourth-largest oil and second-biggest natural gas reserves, is opening to foreign investors after the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year ended a decade of isolation. The removal of sanctions may trigger at least $50 billion a year in foreign investment, according to the country’s central bank.

40 Million Iranians

The Social Security Organisation provides benefits for about 40 million Iranians, Assari said. A foreign investor "who wants to link-up with a company like this can access an audience of 40 million," he said.

Shasta is seeking to work with a foreign company to expand Iran’s upstream oil sector through Tamin Oil, Gas & Petrochemical Investment Co., one of the company’s largest assets with a market value of about $3 billion, Assari said.

It’s also considering investing in European and Asian equity markets, starting at around $50 million, through its financial services firm Saba Tamin, he said. The company has already invested about $1 billion in some of Iran’s biggest banks, Assari said.

Shasta expects "very good growth" this year after $7.23 billion in revenue and $1.16 billion in pretax profit in the year to June 2015, Assari said.

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