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Iranian banks selling $1.4bn in assets amid overhaul: Report

File photo shows customers inside a bank in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Nearly $1.4 billion in assets owned by 18 Iranian banks are being sold as the banking system in the country goes through a massive restructuring program meant to make it more efficient.

The official IRNA agency said in a Monday report that nearly $600 million of assets of the banks had already been sold as part of a large scheme to dispose of $8.3 billion of assets that include factories, hotels, residential units and other commercial, agricultural and industrial enterprises.

The report cited a statement from the Central Bank of Iran’s research institute saying that a first phase of the sell-off would cover up to 170 trillion rials ($1.4 billion) of the value of such assets.

It added that Bank Melli of Iran, the largest bank in the country, owns around 14 percent of the estates owned by the banks, more than half of them declared as residential units that are scattered across the country.

The report said the assets also include 250 bank branches that have been closed down either due to mergers or downsizing of the banking services.

Officials have said that Iranian banks currently own a total of 1,246 factories as well as 277 major farming units, all of them shut down and waiting for new administrators.

Iran’s minister of finance Farhad Dejpassand has said that the disposals of the assets are part of a larger plan to overhaul the Iranian banking system, where both the government-sponsored banks and those run by the private owners are intent on restructuring their services.

In a  recent briefing to reporters, Dejpassand rejected claims that the sales was meant to allow the government to pay for its budget deficits, insisting that the money would return to the banking system to encourage more lending.

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