Italy is poised to sign deals worth up to 17 billion euros with Iran during President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Rome, according to a government source. As Sonia Legg reports, Iran is visiting numerous countries as it eyes a potential investment bonanza after the lifting of financial sanctions.
They rolled out the red carpet in Rome for Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. And who can blame them when 17 billion euros is at stake. That's the estimated value of a raft of deals Italy hopes to sign with Iran. Rouhani is travelling with an entourage of 100 businessmen and ministers. Matthew Beesley is from Henderson Global Investors. (SOUNDBITE): HENDERSON GLOBAL INVESTORS, HEAD OF GLOBAL EQUITIES, MATTHEW BEESLEY, SAYING (ENGLISH): "Iran is a frontier that has largely been untouched by western governments and western capital so there will be some countries that are keener than others to do business in iran given the political opportunities that undoubtedly exist in that economy on a long term basis." Italy has traditionally had close economic ties with Iran. And oil services group Saipem is just one company hoping to agree a deal. It's reportedly planning a 2,000 kilometre pipeline worth 4 - 5 billion dollars. Steel firm Danieli also says it's hoping to reach agreements worth $5.7 billion, although there's unlikely to be an immediate bonanza. (SOUNDBITE): HENDERSON GLOBAL INVESTORS, HEAD OF GLOBAL EQUITIES, MATTHEW BEESLEY, SAYING (ENGLISH): "It will take many years for some countries and companies to be confident and comfortable with increased investment in Iran but it's surely a big opportunity for those who can find skills and capital that match up with Iranian needs." After a decade of isolation due to western sanctions - Iran has plenty of those It's already announced plans to buy at least 160 European planes, including eight super jumbos from Airbus. Boeing too may get a share of the pie. And Iran's world tour is not over yet - Rouhani has already visited China - and he's off to France after Italy.