Apple, GE, HP Among U.S. Firms Eyeing Iran Market

General Electric (NYSE:GE), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), HP Inc. (NYSE:HPQ), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) and other U.S. companies are reportedly preparing for the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran so they can enter the market of 77 million people.

Concerned they might lag Asian and European competitors in Iran, some U.S. companies plan to hit the ground running as soon as sanctions are lifted by drafting contracts and sending envoys, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sanctions are expected to be eased in the wake of this year’s agreement between Iran, the U.S. and several other nations concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s young, well-educated and tech-savvy consumer market is seen as potentially lucrative for Western firms.

Interested U.S. companies are dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s by consulting with officials from the State and Treasury departments to ensure talks with Tehran by their non-U.S. subsidiaries remain compliant with the law, sources told the Journal.

For example, Hewlett-Packard (Suisse) Sarl, HP’s Switzerland-based subsidiary, reportedly circulated draft agreements with Iranian distributors last month in order to resell its computer products. Non-U.S. HP distributors held meetings in Dubai and Tehran with the potential distributors.

Last year, Apple began contacting Iranian distributors about possibly entering the nation to sell iPhones, desktop computers and opening Apple stores if Western sanctions are sufficiently relaxed. But the negotiations have been slowed by Iran’s less-than-robust legal protections for intellectual property, according to the Journal.

Once sanctions are eased, Iran is also expected to attract billions of dollars worth of investment in oil and gas fields, attracting GE’s oil services unit as well as Houston-based Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company.

GE shares fell 0.4% to close at 30.83 on the stock market today, while Schlumberger slipped 0.7% to finish at 70.53, HP fell 0.2%, and Apple fell 0.5%.

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