Iranian Bourse Breaks Record with Billion Dollar Trade

A00219808.jpgThe Tehran stock exchange has broken its record for the highest ever transaction on the bourse with the sale of shares worth over one billion dollars in a state copper company. Twenty percent of shares in National Iranian Copper Industries were sold in less than seven minutes on Wednesday for 10 trillion rials (1.1 billion dollars).

The purchaser was a consortium made up of different private and state companies, including the pension funds of the steel industry and state broadcasting.

Another 20 percent of the company would go on sale in the next week.

The deal easily tops the previous high set earlier this year when the Iranian government sold almost 110 million dollars worth of shares in a leading steel company.

The state currently has a grip on over three-quarters of Iran’s economy and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year issued a decree envisaging a major program of privatization.

Drawn up by the Expediency Council, Iran’s top political arbitration body headed by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the plan aims to ease state control over the economy.

The program set out by the Leader to privatize 80 percent of public and state institutions notably excludes firms and industries involved in work connected to defense and security.

Meantime, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seeks to hand out a large proportion of the shares in privatized companies as “justice” shares to the poor.

The Tehran stock exchange slumped following the election of Ahmadinejad in 2005 but has recovered in the last six months and in the last days topped the 10,000 points barrier.

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