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09/23/15

In appreciation of Farrokh Najmabadi's life



FARROKH NAJMABADI

June 11, 1930 - September 17, 2015

Farrokh Najmabadi, the former Iranian minister of Industries and Mines, a high official in the National Iranian Oil Company, and a former official of the World Bank, passed away in Bethesda, Maryland on September 17 after a long illness. As director of the national telephone company, he laid the foundation for Iran's modern telephone system; he played a key role in the formation and operations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); and was one of the architects of Iran's industrialization drive in the 1960s and 1970s.

Najmabadi was born on June 11, 1930 in Tehran to a distinguished family of clerics and scholars. He received his primary and secondary education in Tehran and continued his studies at the Iranian oil industry's elite Abadan Technical School. He was among the top students selected for training in petroleum and electrical engineering at Birmingham University in England, where he received his degree in the early 1950s, then completing an MA in Management at the Manchester Institute of Technology (UK). After four years at the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company in Manchester, where he worked on the design and development of electric motors, he returned to Iran in 1957 to join the National Iranian Oil Company.

He caught the eye of the then deputy managing director (and future prime minister) Amir Abbas Hoveyda.  When Hoveyda became minister of finance in the cabinet of Hassan Ali Mansur in 1963, he appointed Najmabadi director-general of petroleum and international affairs. Two years later, Najmabadi was named head of the Iran Telephone Company, where he undertook the modernization of an outdated telephone and telecommunications system.  

Between 1967 and 1974, he served as deputy minister of economy, rising to the number two position in the ministry. In this period he was instrumental in encouraging private sector investment in industry and mining, and was part of a team that helped develop Iran's heavy industry base in such areas as steel, copper, petrochemicals, and machine tools. He continued this work when he was appointed minister of industries and mines in 1974, and where he became responsible for supervising what were by then a large number of autonomous state-owned enterprises. He was also much involved in Iran's growing international trade, co-chairing joint economic commissions between Iran and Sweden, Holland, Canada and other countries. He also helped formulate policies for implementing a new law that gave private sector industrial workers shares in the enterprises where they were employed.  

In the turmoil that gripped the country in 1978, strikes in the oil industry resulted in severe shortages of gasoline, kerosene and other oil products. Najmabadi was summoned back to the National Iranian Oil Company to manage the production and distribution of now-scarce oil supplies. An unusual twist in history thus resulted in Najmabadi ending his government career where he had started it-in the oil industry.

Najmabadi had to leave Iran for England due to a serious heart condition in the early weeks of 1979. He was in England when the Islamic Revolution took place.

Najmabadi subsequently joined the staff of the World Bank, advising on the industrial policies of developing countries and participating in various bank studies on the international petroleum and gas markets. He retired from the bank in 1995.

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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