Bank Muscat says opening Iran office

DUBAI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Bank Muscat, Oman’s largest lender by market value, is opening a representative office in Iran, the bank said on Thursday, underlining rapid growth in business ties between the countries after the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The announcement appears to make Bank Muscat one of the first foreign financial firms to establish a presence in Iran since the international sanctions, imposed over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme, were removed in January.

A brief statement by Bank Muscat did not say when the process of opening the office would be completed, or give any further details.

Oman is keen to strengthen ties in order to obtain natural gas supplies for its industry and diversify its economy beyond oil. In late January, an Omani sovereign wealth fund signed an understanding with Iran’s biggest auto maker, Iran Khodro Industrial Group, to study a proposal for a $200 million auto plant in Oman. (Reporting by Nadia Saleem; Editing by Andrew Torchia)