Bank Mellat to open Georgia branch by Sept.

Financial Tribune – Mellat Bank Yerevan, a subsidiary of Iran’s Bank Mellat, will open a new branch in Georgia by the end of the first half of the current Iranian year (Sept. 22), said Bank Mellat’s chief executive.

“We have obtained the permission to establish a branch in Tbilisi and plan to start employing staff,” Hadi Akhlaghi was also quoted as saying by IBENA on Sunday.

Bank Mellat opened a subsidiary in Armenia in 1996 in accordance with the agreement signed with the Central Bank of Armenia. Initially the bank operated as a branch of Iran’s Bank Mellat, but in September 1997 it was reorganized into a subsidiary with a closed joint-stock company (CJSC) status, which denotes a joint stock company with a limited number of shareholders.

Back in October 2016, it was announced that Yerevan-based Bank Mellat CJSC, fully owned by Iran’s Bank Mellat, increased its authorized capital in compliance with the new requirement of the Central Bank of Armenia. The bank also opened its new headquarters in Yerevan.

The leading privatized lender is trying to expand international operations by increasing the number of overseas branches and cementing correspondent relations with foreign banks.

Akhlaghi noted that Bank Mellat also plans to expand ties with both Malaysia and South Korea in the coming months.

Bank Mellat has a branch in South Korea, which is not operating at the moment.

“Restarting Seoul operations is on our agenda, since the trade volume between Iran and South Korea is considerably high and South Korean investors have shown interest in the Iranian market,” he said.

Some of Bank Mellat’s subsidiaries and branches in other countries have restarted operations since the removal of sanctions, namely Persia International Bank Plc in London, which is jointly owned by Mellat and Tejarat Bank.

Three branches of Bank Mellat in Turkey, one each in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, also began operations in February. The bank launched its first branch in Turkey in 1982, but had to temporarily cease operations when sanctions on Iran’s banking sector intensified in 2012.

Aziz Akhoundi-Asl, the chairman of Istanbul’s branch, had earlier claimed that Bank Mellat has made efforts to establish new branches in Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and a number of other target countries, which have not materialized yet.

Mellat Bank currently has 1,900 branches inside the country and provides services to more than 30 million customers.

The leading private lender has recorded a 320% growth in total volume of transactions in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2017), compared with the year before.

“This includes payment orders and L/Cs opened through this bank,” Akhlaghi said.

“Mellat issued $12.16 billion worth of L/Cs and payment notes in the last fiscal year, marking a considerable growth from $2.8 billion in the previous year.”