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Iranian Bank Says Not Affected By British Measure


The headquarters of Bank Mellat in downtown Tehran

The headquarters of Bank Mellat in downtown Tehran

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's second-largest bank, Bank Mellat, said its operations would not suffer because of Britain's move to halt dealings with it and another Iranian state company, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

"The new instruction by the British treasury...will not cause the blocking of Bank Mellat's assets in that country," Mohammad-Taqi Samadi, the bank's financial manager, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

On October 12, Britain ordered financial firms to halt business relations with the two Iranian companies because of concerns they were involved in helping to develop nuclear weapons.

Samadi said British institutions would be able to continue transactions with Bank Mellat under "some specific conditions." Bank Mellat is already subject to U.S. sanctions.

"Considering the conditions relating to the new limitations, the move will not negatively affect the bank's activities," he said without elaborating.

Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, has said its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity so it can export more of its gas and oil.

In the Islamic republic's first part-privatization of a bank, a 5 percent stake in Bank Mellat was sold in February.

With foreign investors wary of Iran because of its nuclear row with the West, analysts have said firms to be sold off may simply end up being transferred within the country's vast public sector.

Iran's economy is dominated by the state but the government has been seeking to speed up privatizations after the constitution was changed to encourage the sale of assets.
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