Italian money manager Azimut Group will acquire 20% of Iranian manager Mofid Entekhab.
Azimut also signed a shareholders agreement to develop an onshore financial advisory platform and to establish an offshore strategy enabling foreign investors to access Iranian capital markets, said a news release by Azimut.
Financial details were not disclosed, said a spokeswoman for Azimut. Mofid Entekhab is part of brokerage and financial advisory firm Mofid Group. The money management arm was founded in 2016 and has $89 million in assets under management across six mutual funds and managed accounts.
The release said Iran is a "one-of-a-kind opportunity for global asset management companies," underpinned by strong demographics, low capitalization of the economy and a high-entry barrier for foreign investors.
Mofid Group will remain the majority shareholder. Azimut will acquire the stake through AZ International Holdings.
The two firms will also work to develop a range of investment strategies in local asset classes, build a local trained sales force providing financial advisory and wealth management services, and launch offshore strategies for foreign investors. "The parties have ensured that the partnership will be compliant with economic sanctions requirements," said the release.
"Today we are making a historical first step for a global player entering the Iranian financial market," said Sergio Albarelli, CEO of Azimut Holding, in the release. "We see the group to pioneer the untapped opportunities of a frontier market, which has in fact the full credentials of a large advanced emerging market. Mofid adds to its (indisputable) market leadership a multidecade reputation in brokerage and asset management services, sharing a common base with Azimut core values of independence and commitment to performance."
Azimut had €38.7 billion ($45.7 billion) in assets under management. The spokeswoman said Azimut received authorization earlier this year to acquire an 80% stake in New Horizon Capital Management in Dubai, allowing it to perform certain local operations.