On April 15, the Social Security Investment Company (Shasta) was listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange and became the largest initial public offering in the Exchange’s history with 10% of Shasta shares up for purchase.
Shasta, for those not familiar, is conglomerate of eight industrial-financial groups that that manages 187 different companies in the sectors of
- oil, gas, and petrochemicals
- cement and ceramic tiles
- electricity and energy
- banking and insurance
- land and sea transport
It also has an unmanaged stake in 100 other industrial, manufacturing, and service units.
Shasta is owned by workers and retirees, but its CEO and board of directors are appointed by Mohammad Shariatmadari, the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, which means that the real owners have no managing role and were not able to stop this public offering.
Regime officials had said that Shasta had a deficit of 25,000 billion tomans and bank debt of 39,000 billion tomans, which was the excuse given for selling shares. Not mentioned was that the regime owes over 250,000 billion tomans to Shasta. Rather than the regime paying off its debt, it sold shares in the company that has already looted.
This is unfair. The shares should be given to the workers and retirees for free, otherwise, it will go to the regime’s inner circle. After all, at a time when the economy is decreasing because of a global pandemic, who can afford Shasta shares? Only the people who have been ripping off the workers for decades.
Even officials, like former Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi, have criticized this move.
The “privatization” of Iranian companies is never a good thing. The businesses are only ever sold off to the regime’s cronies who drain the assets, run the company into the ground, and leave the workers – who cannot afford food, let alone shares right now – in a worse state than ever before. (See Haft Tappeh Sugarcane factory and Hepco Company.)
The NCRI wrote: “As a result of the regime’s negligence and criminality in concealing the prevalence of the coronavirus, there is a severe blow that the consequences of this concealment will have on the lives and health of the people and the sick economy of the country. This will be manifested in the form of crushing economic pressure on workers, retirees, wage earners, peddlers, and all the deprived sections of society. “