NYSE hopes to attract top Israeli companies

The New York Stock Exchange is on a mission to attract more Israeli firms to Wall Street.

New York Stock Exchange NYSE 311 R (photo credit: ERIC THAYER / Reuters)
New York Stock Exchange NYSE 311 R
(photo credit: ERIC THAYER / Reuters)
Buoyed by the recent transfer of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd.’s listing from the rival Nasdaq stock market, the New York Stock Exchange is on a mission to attract more Israeli firms to Wall Street.
Teva, the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, is one of eight companies from around the world that have transferred their stock listing from Nasdaq to the NYSE this year. Its addition in May increased the number of Israeli companies listed on the NYSE to 16, while more than 50 trade on Nasdaq.
“[The addition of] Teva, together with the Gazit-Globe IPO at the end of last year, is a clear sign that our presence in this market is becoming more visible and a reflection of our good relationship with the Israeli business community,” NYSE Euronext head of international listings Diederik Zandstra told reporters in Tel Aviv on Monday.
NYSE Euronext is the world’s largest operator of stock exchanges, with $14.2 billion in market capitalizations last year. It facilitates 43 times more in one day, in dollar value of transactions, than online shopping website eBay does in an entire year, according to people familiar with the matter. It also claims to be responsible for 55 percent to 56% of global technology listings this year, despite Facebook’s high-profile IPO on the Nasdaq and Nasdaq’s traditional reputation for being tech-friendly.
The New York Stock Exchange’s decision five years ago to lower its minimum-networth requirement from $750 million to $150m. opened the door for hi-tech companies to list, but it took some time for the tech industry to acclimatize to the changes, NYSE Euronext chief operating officer Larry Leibowitz said Monday.
“The old New York attitude was, ‘When you grow up you’ll come here,’” he said. “And guess what, when Apple grew up it didn’t bother, and when Microsoft grew up it didn’t bother. And so New York realized that we had to change, and we also had to build relationships with companies earlier.”
The NYSE’s listings business is now run by four ex-tech bankers, a move Leibowitz credits for the exchange’s success in attracting Internet giants such as LinkedIn, Yelp and Pandora over the past four years. But it took numerous visits to Israel to convince local tech companies that it is safe to go public with the NYSE, he said.
Leibowitz and Zandstra acknowledged that investor confidence has been hurt by global uncertainty and by Nasdaq’s botching of the Facebook IPO. Nasdaq OMX Group CEO Robert Greifeld attributed the Facebook flop to staffer arrogance and overconfidence, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Technical problems caused a half-hour delay on Facebook’s first day of trading on May 18. Once trading began, investors complained of difficulties with completing and canceling orders, causing them an estimated $500m. in losses.
“The conclusion is that the [Nasdaq] exchange didn’t do a good job,” Leibowitz said. “I would never say that we would never have a problem with technology. But how you react to that and how you handle the crisis is very much up to you. It is an exchange’s job to be transparent, to communicate fully and to take responsibility and accountability.
We feel like that was lacking in this process.
“When we talk about the stock market, this is not like going to the horse track. People are investing their retirement savings, and if they don’t feel like it’s a safe place where they have a fair chance, they’re going to be scared,” he said.
When combined with an already rough economy, Leibowitz said, the Facebook fiasco “just adds to this negative feeling about the market.”