Ahead of the game: why this Sydney firm is already in Iran

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Sydney commercial law firm Vatandoust Lawyers was quick to establish an Iranian office after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s visit to the Middle East last year and the easing of economic sanctions that followed.

With a number of Persian speaking lawyers in the firm, founder Dr. Reza Cyrus Vatandoust said the firm is ready for the ever emerging opportunities in the market.

“Australian businesses should be looking to expand into a number of areas in Iran, particularly in the technical sector,” Vatandoust told Australasian Lawyer.

“The Iranian manufacturing [and automotive] industry would be very well served by Australian companies wanting to go over there and update the hardware they use.”

The firm first opened its doors in 2012 specialising in M&A, private equity, corporate organisations, foreign investments, international trade, project development and dispute resolution.  It was first off the mark to establish a presence in Tehran.

“We have a lot of demand from companies that are based in Iran that want to expand overseas,” Vatandoust said.

“We have more [businesses] from Iran that want to do business with the outside world and we have a number of companies that are looking to establish their intellectual property rights in Australia, establish offices, entities and export their products to Australia.

“I think there are tremendous opportunities.”

Food production is the biggest opportunity the firm has seen so far but it’s seeing an influx of opportunities from Australian businesses looking to invest in Iran too.  The Australian live trade industry is eager to expand in the region.

“The problem at the moment is that despite the sanctions being eased, the banking sector is still under a lot of pressure,” Vatandoust said.

“It gives the large companies a lot of grief because they can’t establish lines of credit between the Iranian banks.  The transactions that do take place are scaled down and have to be done through direct payment.

“We do a lot of due diligence on when the sanctions will be fully lifted, particularly in the banking and finance sector.”

But for all the firms waiting for the green light to enter the Iranian market, it’s not so simple Vatandoust said, particularly for non-Persian speaking lawyers.

“If you don’t know your way around and the way to deal with people, then you’ll definitely need to have lawyers over there who know what they’re doing,” he said.

“The jurisdiction is Civil and Sharia law so it’s different to Australia.”