First infrastructure bonds to list in '07 [p. 17]

The growing trend of foreign players entering the local infrastructure market is expected to lead to the launch of the first infrastructure bonds issued and trading in the capital markets in 2007. "We are expecting that in 2007, there will be significant developments and further increases in the financing of projects in Israel. The issuing of bonds will sophisticate the market, reduce the risk of holders and thus lower financing costs," said Shahar Ziv, senior partner at BDO Ziv Haft. "More foreign banks will enter the field and some of them are already in negotiations over financing projects. We expect that their involvement in project financing will rise over 25 percent." In the first phase, companies are expected to issue bonds of mature projects and step-by-step to issue bonds for projects at earlier stages of development. The expanding market for infrastructure projects together with the strengthening of the local economy, has turned this market into a more attractive one for foreign financial institutions, so economists at BDO Ziv Haft believe foreign players initially will finance projects together with local players. The next important phase in the development of the market, according to Ziv, will be the increase of infrastructure projects at lower values of between $50 million and $150m. each, such as road, water, sewage and construction projects in local authorities. "The development of the infrastructure market in local authorities is dependent on the creation of a clear and simple system setting standards and thus requires the cooperation between local government and central government," said Ziv. "As the cooperation comes to fruition and develops, the number of projects will accelerate."