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Iran 'UK credit agency's most active market'

London, Nov. 15, IRNA - Iran has become one of the most active markets for the British government's Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) in recent years, according to its deputy chief executive John Weiss. But from the number of contracts and in terms of interest shown by British businesses, it is now the "ECGD's most active market," Weiss told company representatives at an economic conference on Iran in London Wednesday.

He said that in terms of value the Iranian market was "not yet huge" with the UK agency supporting Pnds 260 million (Dlrs 468 m) worth of business since medium-term credit was restored in 2000, "But," he predicted "it would continue to grow."

ECGD, which works to promote bilateral business for UK companies, has so largely offered credit for contracts with Iran's oil and petrochemical sector.

Facilities offered include either corporate risk or structured finance, which streamlines the procedure by no longer requiring sovereign guarantees from Iran.

The deputy chief executive said that ECGD was the first government credit agency to move forward in 2002 to provide what he called 'clean risk' support for smaller contracts with either the National Iranian Oil Company or National Petrochemical Company.

Among the most recent major contracts was Dlrs 76m support in July for the UK content of Phases 9 and 10 of the South Pars development, which was worth Dlrs 1.6 billion.

Weiss said that Phases 9 and 10 represented "the largest export credit transaction ever in the Middle East" and involved five different government agencies providing support.

"It is a highly innovative arrangement and is a structure to form the template for future projects," he said, further emphasizing its importance.

Outside the oil sector, the deputy chief executive said that ECGD had also supported contracts for British companies in Iran's power industry, transport, waste water management, telecom and mining, where he said there was a "great potential' for UK businesses.

"To facilitate non-oil and gas business, ECGD can consider business-backed Iran's Sepah, Saderat, Melli, Mellat and Tejerat banks," he said.

He also announced that the Bank of Industry and Mine had been recently added to the list.

With regard to future contracts with Iran, Weiss said that a further major development worth one billion dollars could be expected in relation to South Pars. There were also further downstream etrochemical and gas feed stock projects in the pipeline.

... Payvand News - 11/18/04 ... --

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