‘Our banking system is one of the most stable in the world’

Bank Hapoalim president and CEO Zion Kenan answers the Post's questions in the second of a two part series.

October 16, 2013 22:42
2 minute read.
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Gateway to Israel logo370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel’s banking system is “one of the most stable among developed countries” across the world, according to Bank Hapoalim president and CEO Zion Kenan. In a wide-ranging interview with The Jerusalem Post in Washington, DC, after he attended the International Monetary Fund’s annual conference in Washington last week, Kenan talked about his vision of international and Israeli banking.

This is the second part of an interview with Kenan.

Are the leading central banks doing their job properly?

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It’s worth noting that central bankers I’ve met with have told me how impressed they are by the fact that since the global financial crisis began in 2008 the Israeli banking system has not been in need of any government funding. Financial leaders around the world are well aware of the fact that not one single Israeli bank needed assistance and that our banking system is one of the most stable among developed countries.

What do global financial leaders think about the Israeli economy and its prospects for the future?

Heads of banks, senior finance executives and international investment fund representatives with whom I’ve met here have told me how impressed they are – and a little bit jealous – of how strong the Israeli economy has been since the global financial crisis began in 2008.

There’s no doubt that Israel’s recent approval of the annual budget and S&P’s decision to raise Israel’s credit rating to A-plus were also factors.

I hope and believe that if Israel continues with its policy of budgetary restraint, and if its regulatory system continues to provide the necessary flexibility with regard to vital matters, Israel’s attractiveness to foreign investors will continue – or even increase.

What specific areas of Israel’s economy have been at the center of attention for foreign bankers and investors?

Israel is still considered a leader in the world of technological start-ups, namely communication, medicine and biotechnology, which are fields that foreign investors are extremely interested in.

Summing up, why invest in Bank Hapoalim?

We remain committed to producing profitability and results in line with the bank’s risk appetite, while further extending our position as the nation’s leading financial and banking institution, thanks to the strength of our core banking activity.

We will look to achieve these objectives by continuing to grow our balance sheet, while continuing to distribute dividends. The quarterly cash dividend reflects the bank’s commitment to return value to its shareholders. It is proof of the strength of the core banking activities and the financial performance of the bank, while also maintaining sufficient capital and a healthy level of liquidity.

This article was produced in conjunction with Bank Hapoalim.

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