Bank Mellat Shares Lose 37.5% in One Day

By Alireza Ramezani for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

The sudden and sharp fall in the main index of the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) on Jan. 24 came as a real shock to investors. After allowing the resumption of trade in Bank Mellat shares, TEDPIX took a dive of 1,014.40 points, or 1.28%, to land at a three-month low of 78,249.1 points.

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) had kept Bank Mellat’s ticker symbol suspended since July 17. It argued at the time that the commercial bank had failed to comply with international financial reporting standards and provided misleading reports.

The sudden reopening of the bank’s ticker symbol came after Mellat’s executives settled their dispute with the regulator, led by Ali Beikzadeh, head of the office for supervising publishers at the Securities and Exchange Organization (SEO). However, the decision to let the bank resume trading sent Mellat’s shares down 37.5% to 1,200 rials per share on Jan. 24. That was half of its value on July 17.

Investors are now worried about the likely reopening of trade in the shares of several other banks whose ticker symbols have also been suspended. Eleven banks were taken off the trading board last July when the CBI compelled them to adjust their financial reports to conform to international financial reporting standards. Mellat is the only one off the suspension list at present. The rest are in a queue to return to equity markets TSE and Iran Fara Bourse (IFB).

Experts expect at least two of the lenders — Bank Saderat and Bank Tejarat — to resume trading on the TSE, with similar falls forecast by experts. Given that the share value of the three banks in total accounts for 50% of the industry’s listed share value, pundits warn authorities to be cautious about their decision-making to prevent any further shocks.

Other than commercial banks, 56 companies have also been taken off the trading board in the past couple of years for a wide range of reasons. The market value of the suspended ticker symbols on the TSE alone is estimated at 720 trillion rials ($22.2 billion), leading economic newspaper Donya-e Eqtesad reported Jan. 28. This sum amounts to 21% of the total stock market value.

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