Ayandeh’s DIY mega-merger sets template for Iranian bank consolidation

Chris Wright
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Few bank mergers anywhere in the world have been more ambitious than the one that created Bank Ayandeh in Iran in 2013. It combined Tat Bank with two other financial institutions and 10 credit cooperatives, and did so in a country that has absolutely no regulatory guidance for how to do it and where staff layoffs are all but taboo because of vast national unemployment.

The man responsible for bringing it all together was Jalal Rasoulof, who has been immersed in Iranian banking and policy for more than 20 years. It’s easy to see why he was chosen for the task: a former deputy minister in the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1990s, he was given the task of winding down the insolvent Agricultural Bank and turned it from an agricultural fund into one of the better government commercial banks. He then ran two other private banks before taking on Ayandeh.

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An immaculately presented man, he nevertheless exudes a certain fatigue from the effort involved. Asked what challenges the merger involved, his answer runs to 31 minutes. "I have 35 years of management experience, but when I compare this to my previous experiences it was most complex and difficult one," he says. "But I’m sure it was the best and maybe the first big merger in the financial sector from the beginning of banking bureaucracy in Iran, which is more than 120 years."