Panel recommends alternative markets

The Procaccia Committee on Monday revealed a series of recommendations to improve competitiveness and volume in the country's markets.

The Procaccia Committee on Monday revealed a series of recommendations to improve competitiveness and volume in the country's markets. "The proposed reform encourages the creation and licensing of a number of stock exchanges in Israel. The multitude of stock exchanges will encourage competition among them," said Prof. Uriel Procaccia, chairman of the committee. "The competition is expected to produce new financial instruments as well as upgrade the package of services offered to investors - both in terms of price and quality." Appointed by Moshe Terry, chairman of the ISA, about 18 months ago, the committee has set a regulatory and legal framework for alternative forums of trade in securities, or so-called Alternative Trading Systems (ATS). "Although the alternative market sector in Israel is still relatively small, the number of alternative forums which are not affiliated with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been growing steadily, the more developed the technology which allows virtual trade," said Terry. All the forums, he said, must be subject to regulation to "ensure disclosure to protect the public and investor's confidence in the system." All stock exchanges also would be subject to a real time online national reporting system on all securities that come under the reporting obligations. ATS are electronic systems that bring together potential buyers and sellers of securities. They have a beneficial impact on financial markets by driving down transaction costs and offering wider choice to market participants. One example is Easy Forex, which currently operates in Europe, Israel and Asia Pacific, providing an online trading platform, enabling clients to trade in derivatives and foreign exchange rates over the internet. "We have no complaints to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, but its competitiveness and market volume is limited compared with 24 hour online trading systems," Procaccia said. According to the recommendations, which still need to be passed by the Knesset, alternative trade forums would be allowed to act as stock exchanges and the ISA would act as the authoritative body to allow stock exchange activities, including licensing decisions. Until now alternative trading forums - buyers and sellers of securities - and brokerage forums - between investors and brokers - were not issued a license for operating a stock exchange in accordance with the Securities Law. The recommended regulations demand a distinction between trading and brokerage forums to avoid conflicts of interest. In addition, Procaccia said foreign alternative trading platforms such as Bloomberg or Reuters would be allowed to directly enter the Israeli market by registering as a foreign company.