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Awards for Excellence 2009: Iran

Best Bank: EN Bank

Iranian bank privatization had a lacklustre start in late February as 5% of Bank Mellat was floated on the Tehran Stock Exchange. As the process grinds painfully on amid US sanctions and collapsed oil revenues, a bank already in private hands continues to stand out.

EN Bank is catching up with the incumbent state-owned banks quickly. Its net income roughly doubled last year. Assets grew by around two-thirds, with deposits rising by a similar proportion. It opened 60 new branches, bringing its network to 220. It installed 150 new ATMs, bringing the total to 650. Almost half a million new customers joined the bank.

Perhaps most impressive and most significant of the benefits of operating at arm’s length from a state that has bad relations with the US, however, is the huge growth in trade finance.