Dominic Bokor-Ingram recently visited a growing economy full of well-run companies that the London-based money manager deemed ripe for investment. The catch: The place was Tehran, a target of grinding international sanctions.
“I’ve been to countries where things are booming and it looks great, but never with the level of infrastructure Iran has,” he said.
A handful of intrepid institutional investors like Mr. Bokor-Ingram, an investment manager who works for the U.K.’s Charlemagne Capital, are considering an entry into Iran, one of riskiest frontiers of global equities. Eager for a competitive edge, they are planning joint ventures, hiring staff and bracing for what can be a capricious business environment.
Iran’s $100 billion stock market is a major focus, given that there is no limit on foreign investment and they view it as severely undervalued. What’s more, there are more than 300 companies listed on the Tehran exchange, many of which have accumulated management expertise and resilience from years of trying to grow in the face of sanctions. The Iranian government’s ethos of self-reliance also has spawned industrial champions, such as Khatam al-Anbiya, a state-owned engineering giant, and a pair of large auto makers, Iran Khodro and Saipa.