Bank Markazi (central bank) is studying applications from two non-bank credit institutions and one co-operative bank for licences to start operations. This follows the award earlier this year of the first two licences to form private banks. Legislation allowing private banks was passed in 1993, but only came into effect in 2000 after it was confirmed by the Majlis (parliament - MEED 27:7:01; 19:5:00).
Markazi says the statutes of two non-bank credit institutions - Samane Eqtesadand Karafarinan - are now under study, and a request for the establishment of Bank Taavon (Co-operative Bank)is being processed. The banks that have already been licensed are Bank-e Eqtesda-e Novinand Parsian Bank.
The rules governing the formation of private banks include a minimum capital requirement of IR 200,000 million ($27 million at the free market exchange rate), of which a minimum of 50 per cent must be deposited with the central bank before the initial permit is issued. Foreign investors are permitted to hold up to 25 per cent of the equity.
The government and the central bank are also formulating policies regarding the eventual privatisation of the existing state-owned banks.
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