Both BSI and BMI have onshore licences in Bahrain and their operations will be merged into Future Bank. The two Iranian banks also plan to rebrand all their other regional operations outside Iran, chiefly in Oman and Qatar.

Crucially, BSI and BMI have pledged to work towards securing a banking licence for Future Bank within the Islamic republic and for AUB, the venture is essentially a vehicle for entry to the gradually opening Iranian market. The Kuwaiti-owned bank has been aggressively spreading its wings recently, acquiring a 40 per cent stake and a 10-year management contract in Al-Ahli Bank of Qatar– subject to emiri approval – and is in negotiations for a 20 per cent stake in Sharjah-based United Arab Bank(MEED 30:4:04).