On Oberbank Issue the Austrian Envoy Stresses Cooperation with Iran
Austrian envoy to Iran on Sunday rejected media reports that his country’s Oberbank has put projects in Iran on hold and stressed that Vienna is seeking more cooperation with Tehran.
Austria’s Die Presse alleged in a report that Oberbank, one of the first Western banks to sign a deal to provide finance to Iranian projects, has put projects “on hold” due to the uncertainties surrounding the Iran nuclear deal.
Oberbank, Austria’s seventh-largest bank, despite its regional focus and limited exposure to the US financial system, signed an agreement to extend a 1 billion euro line of credit to Iran in September 2017. The deal was announced to much fanfare as political uncertainty increased around the expectation that President Donald Trump would “decertify” the nuclear deal later that October—a step the American leader did subsequently take.
The finance deal, which was signed with the express support of Iran’s central bank as well as the Austrian government, was intended to support capital-intensive infrastructure and energy projects led by Austrian companies and was earmarked for projects of over two years in duration. While Oberbank has long provided trade finance in areas that are exempt from sanctions, such as food and pharmaceuticals, the provision of project finance was considered a significant boost to Iran’s engagement with the European financial system. Denmark’s Danske Bank signed a similar agreement shortly after their Austrian peers.
On this issue the Austrian Envoy to Iran (Stefan Scholz) told in an interview to the Iranian news agency (IRNA) that:
“I can assure you that there has been no policy change on the Austrian side regarding working together with Iran to the benefit of JCPOA implementation”
The envoy noted, “Let me be clear, there is no reason to be overly pessimistic: from the mountain of MoUs, there are several pan-European high profile projects that have entered implementation phase or are close to it.” He also added: “I am not in a position to comment on or confirm any business details, but I will be in Linz next week for the yearly Austrian ambassador conference. Up and running – as reported in the press – is the solar power station in Kerman built by KPV SOLAR and Fronius and financed as a 50:50 JV by KPV Invest. As the proof of concept is working and shares were sold off to European investor, the installation is in the process of being expanded significantly”