Iran: Investing in One of the Best-Performing Stock Markets

Published on
January 14th, 2021
52 minutes

Iran: Investing in One of the Best-Performing Stock Markets

The Interview ·
Featuring Maciej Wojtal and Raoul Pal

Published on: January 14th, 2021 • Duration: 52 minutes

Real Vision founder and CEO Raoul Pal welcomes back Maciej Wojtal, founder and CIO of Amtelon Capital, an investment fund devoted to Iranian equities, to discuss how he’s identified a diversified economy in Iran despite decades of sanctions and geopolitical risks. His interest in Iran was sparked by the nuclear deal brokered by President Obama in 2015 where he found a stock market that had been operating for more than two decades and included nearly 600 companies with $200 million in daily liquidity. His fund gives Western investors access to fast-growing businesses with low valuations in an array of industries—from utilities and automotive to commodities and agriculture. He shares his perspective on managing volatility as well as how the U.S.-Iran relations are expected to change under a new Democratic administration, and he weighs in on trade with neighboring countries in the Middle Eastern region. Filmed on January 12, 2021. Key Learnings: Despite an overall economy that has been rapidly contracting because of U.S. sanctions and weak oil prices, Iran has one of the best-performing stock markets. Iran’s stock market is dominated by retail investors with foreign ones making up less than half a percent of the market cap. Wojtal looks for companies that have pure export exposure, and he has been able to find companies with exports in the region that are usually not affected by sanctions.



  • AM
    Alastair M.
    16 January 2021 @ 11:59
    Maciej, where can we get details of your Netherlands fund, I'm struggling to get anything on either the web or your website
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      18 January 2021 @ 15:55
      Hi Alastair, please email us at Thanks, Maciej
  • VB
    Vincent B.
    17 January 2021 @ 22:28
    Absolutely fantastic insight. You've touched on how the blue wave in Washington should be cyclically benefitial for Iran, but what about the bigger picture and the next election cycle - why would the US' geopolitical goals change from subduing Iran (and the strategy/mindset outlined by Brzezinski and Kissinger)? Countries in Thucydides trap are prone to escelate conflicts, thus I see it as more likely than in the past for a US initiated (proxy) conflict (whatever form it may take) to disrupt those economic revival hopes. On the other hand I see how the other side (India and China), may provide enough economic 'support' to keep the equilibrium. Nonetheless, geo-political risks remain the #1 concern.
  • je
    johannan e.
    16 January 2021 @ 09:40
    Obviously highly interesting when it comes to describing the economic and investment aspects in detailed way. On the other side highly disappointing in the way that the dangerous character of the Iranian regime is being whitewashed away. The part "Israel & Iran" literally begins with pointing out Israel doesn't want any other country in the region to have nuclear weapons. No mention of one of the pillars of the Iranian Revolution since 1979 being the destruction of Israel. The Jewish community there is shrinking by the day, the only Jews left (a few thousands down from 80.000 before the revolution) are old and won't move. Several minorities are being persecuted or at least heavily discriminated against in Iran. Society generally isn't like that, but the US did their part in 2009 by keeping mum and thus backstabbing the Green Revolution. Also no mention of the billions of dollars that Iran "invests" in spreading its Revolution all across the region, from Lebanon, through Syria, Irak, Gaza and Yemen. It would have been nice to hear a more critical commentary, similarly to what one can hear on Real Vision about for instance China.
    • jg
      james g.
      16 January 2021 @ 12:11
    • je
      johannan e.
      16 January 2021 @ 21:46
      Lonbg debunked article from 2007 (!), ever since there were hundreds of explicit "translations mistakes", and there is even a clock on the main square in Teheran that shows a countdown until the destruction of Israel. My point is: obviously, Mr. Wojtal is extremely biased towards presenting the Iranian Regime in a good light. But still, I guess just the measurable economic drain of the extended military proxy campaigns in the region is enormous and should have been worth mentionning:
  • cv
    charles v.
    16 January 2021 @ 19:36
    Good afternoon Raoul, What do you think about the possibility of Iran's younger generation being tired of the old system and maybe trying to overthrow it for a democracy? Do you think the chances of this are high? Do you think the government will peacefully transition if something like this were to happen?
  • VT
    Vincent T.
    15 January 2021 @ 06:45
    Ok great I'm convinced. No mention on how to invest from a retail perspective?
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:03
      Hi Vincent. We managed to launch an alternative investment fund domiciled in the Netherlands where the minimum ticket is €100k (regulatory requirement). Hope to have the retail version ready by 2022.
    • DR
      David R.
      16 January 2021 @ 18:15
      €100K is peanuts these days. So could an East Asian-based "retail" investor invest in your firm's existing fund if qualified and able/willing to invest that amount or more? Iran rocks!!
  • BS
    Bradley S.
    15 January 2021 @ 21:09
    I'm assuming living in the USA i can not invest in Iran unless something changes is this a valid assumption
    • DR
      David R.
      16 January 2021 @ 18:00
      Correct you cannot invest in Iran nor increasingly China (and others) which was one of the top performers again last year, especially after you adjust for currency (collapsing dollar). US policy is forcing Blackrock and all US asset managers to sell its chinese holdings so Asians & Europeans backed up the truck saying thank you very much, especially since the EU and China signed a landmark, comprehensive trade & investment pact on December 31. Many foreign investors, banks and money managers are dumping US financial products and relationships due to US regulations prohibiting investment in numerous countries which also removes key exposure from international index funds. Plus the Trump tax changes have made US unappealing and even punishing for foreign investors. Thus trillions in capital has fled the US in the past year-plus and US is becoming a second-tier capital market, acceptable only for local exposure. Blame US govt policy. Former Fed Gov Kevin Walsh wrote about this last week in a WSJ op-ed and how US monetary policy in particular harms the US economy and national security, whilst Asia is gaining. Former UST Hank Paulson wrote something similar last month. So expect the dollar and US position to continue its long-term structural decline unless policy makes a 180-degree turn.
  • jg
    james g.
    16 January 2021 @ 12:04
    Interesting window on significant country - thank you gents. Obviously the Iranian economy has developed resilience in its forced exclusion from the USD but would it not also suffer some pain in the same way we might expect other EM economies to suffer if we were to enter a USD strength phase over the next year? Would waiting for the end of dollar strength (assuming we see one developing here) be a better time to invest?
  • CJ
    Chris J.
    16 January 2021 @ 10:57
    No way Investing ia Republic with Zero Democracy
  • JS
    Jon S.
    15 January 2021 @ 20:14
    I have been watching this video. I think this is a very dangerous trade. Not only monetarily but to judicial extent any time. We all know the extent of sanction programmes and if the world is going towards more protectionism. This is not comparable to the world when Russia or China opened. Maybe I am wrong but investing in Iran sounds like a Russian roulette. As said, not only financially but with more important sudden implications through sanctions programmes of the OFAC and etc. Not only sanctions are triggered when there is a sanction entity but when in the board of directors a sanction individual has more than a 30% of stake. I would not be surprised if these percentages are decreased in the near future. It is also important to note the international scope of the US jurisdiction and I wonder what will happen if the sanctions are extended and the requirements reduced. This can be very risky business, as said not only from the financial perspective but in terms of the legal liability involved. I think this video needs a second opinion of someone specialist in the political risks and legal implications of sanctions before anyone makes any leap into the dark. This is very dark and the risks is real and it goes further than the financial exposure or risks. However, this is just my opinion and my background is not investing, is law. Happy to read any comments of divergent opinions which I guess will be a lot...
  • CA
    Cristofer A.
    15 January 2021 @ 14:27
    Did I understand correctly that it is possible to open a trading account in Iran as an individual in order to have access to individual Iranian companies?
  • KD
    Kelley D.
    15 January 2021 @ 14:02
    brilliant content ..why I enjoy RV....could be war in Syria is ME version of "cultural revolution"..this is the bottom.. we have seen the dark side...we have to change...if so..the ME is the asymetric play of this decade..
  • SF
    Simon F.
    14 January 2021 @ 09:24
    Thanks to seeing the opportunity on RV, I made a pretty chunky investment in Iran in 2016. If one looks through all the noise with the lens of an investor rather than a trader, it consider it to be potentially the best long term investment i have made. I am currently an investor in Maciej’s fund and remain convinced that the fundamentals of the thesis have remained consistent. People also need to reflect on whether our fragile western economies are capable of the resilience and adaptability Iran has demonstrated? Personally, I feel more comfortable investing in resilient economies! Finally, I consider investing in Iran’s real economy one thing an outsider can do if they want to help the forces of reform. Millions of young, educated, informed and whip smart Iranians are desperate to improve their lives and show the world what they can do and leave behind those that want to return to the Middle Ages. History is packed with examples of Iranians realised potential - today that potential is a tightly coiled spring. If you scan the arc of emerging markets and into the even more concentrated potential of Frontier ones, you end up at the purest expression of the opportunities potential in Iran. Raoul got it really early and sure doesn’t look less enthusiastic 5 years later!
    • RP
      Raoul P. | Founder
      14 January 2021 @ 11:36
      Thanks Simon! Pleased to hear you invested in Iran..
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:20
      Thanks Simon! I totally agree with your comments on resilience, adaptability and the potential of the Iranians.
  • DO
    DIOGO O.
    14 January 2021 @ 11:54
    Excelent interview Question: HOW to invest NOW?
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:17
      Thank you Diogo. Amtelon Capital manages a fund investing on the Iranian stock exchanges.
  • MJ
    Marius J.
    14 January 2021 @ 18:18
    Question: HOW to invest NOW?
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:14
      Hi Marius. Amtelon Capital manages a fund investing on the Iranian stock exchanges.
  • PG
    Philippe G.
    14 January 2021 @ 18:37
    Certainly looks great on paper, but how do retail investors get in on the action? I'd imagine that Mr. Wojtal's fund is only for institutional investors and/or accredited investors?
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:12
      Hi Philippe. We run an alternative investment fund domiciled in the Netherlands where the minimum ticket is €100k (regulatory requirement). Hope to have the retail version ready by 2022.
  • LB
    Lacy B.
    15 January 2021 @ 02:51
    Excellent interview, I listened to every word twice! Bloomberg shows the fund as pending, any further details available?
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:08
      Thanks LB! We haven't updated the fund information on Bloomberg yet. Please email for further details.
  • FP
    Fram P.
    15 January 2021 @ 06:21
    Great Interview i saw the first one with Maciej this just makes me more eager to get in there now But HOW Raoul? How? I am not an institution or accredited investor
    • MW
      Maciej W. | Contributor
      15 January 2021 @ 12:06
      Thank you, Fram. We managed to launch an alternative investment fund domiciled in the Netherlands where the minimum ticket is €100k (regulatory requirement). Hope to have the retail version ready by 2022.
  • XM
    Xavier M.
    14 January 2021 @ 23:07
    This is one of the many things that sets Real Vision apart from the rest. Where can one find this kind of analysis on these types of frontier markets? Nowhere really. Thank you Raoul. I know you’ve now also got young Mr. Fadool preparing some research on a country near and dear to my heart, Morocco. Hope to see it featured soon. Cheers.
    • RP
      Raoul P. | Founder
      15 January 2021 @ 00:56
      It featured in GMI... will be released eventually to RV community.
  • JW
    Jeffrey W.
    14 January 2021 @ 23:26
    Utterly interesting and fascinating!! RV, a window into other economies, policies, opportunities, giving the viewer a wider and truly interesting reality!!
  • AR
    Andrew R.
    14 January 2021 @ 23:12
    Wow, I paused this to get my wife so we could watch together. I haven’t been this excited since finding bitcoin mid 2016. Great content RV team, truly amazing!
  • SU
    Shakeel U.
    14 January 2021 @ 20:52
    Absolutely briliant, thanks! If ordinary people can get along, Jews in Iran, than why can't Governments?
  • AE
    Arash E.
    14 January 2021 @ 05:23
    This was interesting to me to hear as an Iranian who lives in the US. Iran has always been under so much economic pressure from the US so they’ve learned to become more resilient. Not sure if I’d say I’m bullish in general (unfortunately) but very much a good observation on quality of people (most are highly educated)
    • AE
      Arash E.
      14 January 2021 @ 05:23
      (By “always” I mean after the revolution over 40 years ago of course)
    • AB
      Alastair B.
      14 January 2021 @ 18:04
      Same with Russia. Russia has very low debt and is energy and agriculturally self-sufficient. A good position to be in right now.
  • TD
    Thomas D.
    14 January 2021 @ 16:32
    Fascinating! Newbie on RV (pro). Watching the interview i was surprised/found it very insightful how an item as stable coin/bitcoin was touched as a way of circumventing the SWIFT system... :) Really opened my (investment) horizon with the complex relationships between Iran/Russia/China/Turkey/Israel...more FRONTIER interview countries with local experts would be very welcome!
  • JB
    Jonathan B.
    14 January 2021 @ 16:26
    hi Raoul, Love this. Agree this kind of work is why I find Real Vision to be of such value. How do I track it properly? Bloomberg has Tehran bourse (unless I am looking in the wrong place) as a sanctioned security and won't even give a quote. Rather ridiculous. I seem to recall they did this with some of the Russian equities for a bit some years ago when sanctions hit.
  • BD
    Barry D.
    14 January 2021 @ 11:48
    Fascinating interview. This is why I subscribed to RV.
  • JW
    Jay W.
    14 January 2021 @ 10:20
    Top notch real vision content. Thank you.