London lord mayor opens TA trading

Michael Bear says Israel earmarked as one of the countries UK can work with.

By NADAV SHEMER
July 3, 2011 23:10
2 minute read.
Lord Mayor of Michael Bear

Lord Mayor Michael Bear_311. (photo credit: Moshe Shai)

 
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City of London Lord Mayor Michael Bear opened trading at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday, ahead of a panel discussion on opportunities for cooperation between London and Tel Aviv.

Trading resumed with an increase of more than 2 percent, prompting Bear to quip that contrary to what his name would suggest, he had helped produce a bull market.

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Bear, the 683rd lord mayor of London, spoke primarily about what his city can offer trading partners. Declaring the city “open for business,” he said it had become “a little bit complacent over the last 15 years,” but is now “looking to trade internationally, to create jobs for the economy.”

The city business and financial district, which is located within an area of just over one square mile in central London, contributes about £54 billion a year to the UK’s economy, or roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product, he said.

Bear said there were five reasons why London was still number one on the Global Financial Services Index, ahead of New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, including: availability of skilled people; a business-friendly environment (“our legal system is predictable and clear”); infrastructure; and access to international markets.

The final reason, he said, was “the cluster of the best lawyers, best accountants, bankers and financiers, all within a square mile,” which “makes us absolutely unique.”

As lord mayor, which is largely a ceremonial role, Bear has taken on the task of pursuing Prime Minister David Cameron’s vision for commercial diplomacy. Israel, which marks approximately the halfway point of his 23-country world tour, has been earmarked as one of the countries the UK can work with to “take advantage of global growth in the next 20, 30 years,” he said, referring specifically to the strength of both countries in creativity and innovation.



Bear, who is Jewish, said Israel has transformed itself dramatically since he was a child growing up in Britishcontrolled Cyprus, when he used to catch the boat over to Haifa with his family because “it was cheaper than getting a rabbi over there.”

British Ambassador Matthew Gould introduced Bear, saying his visit proves the UK sees Israel as a “key partner – a partner to which we attach enormous value.”

Gould said a recent white paper on economic growth mentioned only one country by name, Israel, because “the United Kingdom has committed itself nationally to forging the strongest possible hi-tech partnership with Israel.”

“We are convinced we [the UK] have a lot to offer,” he said, “We are also convinced, in return, that if we can get this partnership right, that the Israeli economy, as a partner for us, can be a real driver for economic growth.”

Israel Securities Authority director of international affairs Yael Almog said talks aimed at reaching a bilateral agreement between the ISA and the London Financial Services Authority had so far been positive.

“Until now, the only way to list in Israel from London has been using the dual-listing regime based on the ISA’s unilateral recognition of UK prospectus and reporting requirements,” she said.

“The ISA intends to move toward mutual recognition arrangements and reach memoranda of understanding with the FSA and other European regulators,” following the landmark European Securities and Markets Authority decision concerning Israeli prospectus in March, Almog said.

That decision, the first involving a non-EU country, means an Israeli prospectus is now considered valid under the EU Prospectus Directive.

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