Oberbank signs deal to finance Austrian projects in Iran

An Oberbank logo is seen at a branch office in Vienna, Austria, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - Oberbank OBER.VI on Thursday said it had signed a deal with Iran, enabling it to finance new ventures there and making it one of the first European banks to do so since sanctions were eased.

The deal Tehran struck in 2015 with six major powers lifted many sanctions against the country in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities and paved the way for international business deals.

But many banks have stayed away for fear of inadvertently breaking remaining U.S. sanctions, which could lead to huge fines.

U.S. President Donald Trump has created new uncertainties over the U.S. stance toward the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump told reporters this week he had made a decision on what to do about the agreement but would not say what he had decided.

Oberbank, Austria’s seventh-biggest bank, with a balance sheet of roughly 20 billion euros ($24 billion), signed the deal at its headquarters in Linz along with representatives from Iran’s central bank and the Finance Ministry.

Oberbank’s agreement with Iran covers projects by Austrian companies in Iran lasting more than two years in areas that were previously under sanctions. Oberbank already finances exports to Iran in areas such as food.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle. Editing by Jane Merriman