Austria's Oberbank on Thursday signed a credit deal with Tehran to boost exports to Iran, the first European lender to do so since sanctions were eased following a 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.
Oberbank said the framework agreement will finance Austrian investment projects in Iran's infrastructure, healthcare and plant construction sectors.
“We are proud to be the first European bank to have reached this framework agreement after a year and a half of intense negotiations,” Franz Gasselsberger, the director general of the regional bank in Upper Austria, said in a statement.
The deal was “highly anticipated by Austrian exporters”, he said.
“Our clients have numerous projects in the pipeline, which can now be implemented.”
According to Iran's central bank, the contract is worth one billion euro ($1.2 billion) and will benefit 14 Iranian banks.
“The Austrian bank's resources will be allocated to finance authorised state and private infrastructure and production projects,” the Tehran-based central bank said in a statement published on its website.
Oberbank, which continued to maintain relations with Iran even while international sanctions were in place, said it was “prepared” in case the US pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal — something US President Donald Trump has threatened to do.
Under the deal signed between Tehran and six world powers, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the relief of crippling economic sanctions.
But Trump has called the pact negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama “worst deal in history”, and threatened to pull out if Iran does not face greater controls on its missile and nuclear programs.
Many European banks have remained wary of penalties from Washington for resuming business with Iran.
Oberbank increased its net profit by 8.9 percent to 181 million euros in 2016, with total assets worth 19.16 billion.
It owns a 26-percent stake in the Italian UniCredit bank.