TASE aims to boost global reach in '08

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange making Israel "integral part of global market."

tase exhibit 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy photo)
tase exhibit 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy photo)
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said Thursday it expects to further expand its global reach in 2008 after a year that saw major cooperative agreements signed with the London Stock Exchange and Nasdaq and adapted its indexes more closely to international standards. "We try to advance our vision to make Israel an integral part of the global market and 2007 was a turning point for us in that regard," TASE CEO Ester Levanon said at the exchange's year-end review in Tel Aviv. "TASE's goal is to make Tel Aviv an attractive venue for foreign investors, as well as the preferred alternative for companies floating stock for the first time. We aim to encourage Israeli companies to dual-list in Tel Aviv, and to attract leading brokerage firms in the world to become remote members of the TASE." Ronit Harel Ben Ze'ev, , would not elaborate on the globalization plans, other than stating that "things are in process now." "Right now I really can't say who we are in negotiations with, but we do have good relationships with a number of exchanges around the world who we are talking with and planning on signing agreements with," she told The Jerusalem Post. Additionally, noted Ben Ze'ev, the Israel Securities Authority which signed agreements with regulators in India, Romania and Argentina this year, also will continue to sign cooperative agreements with international regulatory bodies in 2008, As another means of expanding its presence, the TASE said it will roll out a wider range of investment products, including the introduction of the Tel Bond 40 and 60 indexes; options on individual shares; and more choice in publishing the VIX index, a measure of market volatility. Additionally, the TASE, in cooperation with the Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry, plans to establish a Repo market. Repos, or repurchase agreements, are contracts for the sale and future repurchase of a financial asset, usually Treasury securities. On the termination date, the seller repurchases the asset at the same price at which he sold it, and pays interest for the use of the funds. Over the course of 2007, 56 new companies raised more than $2.5 billion in initial public offerings on the exchange, among them 20 hi-tech firms. Trading volume of shares set new records while averaging $500 million a day, a 55 percent jump compared to 2006. Trading volume of bonds increased more than 100% from 2006 levels to $800m. Looking back on the accomplishments in 2007, Chairman Saul Bronfeld, noted that the growth enjoyed by the TASE was a reflection of the overall growth in the local economy. "2007 was one of the best years for the Israeli economy, as demonstrated by the rapid pace of economic growth, the government's fiscal discipline and price stability," he said. "Share prices on the TASE reflected the robust status of Israel's economy. The positive developments in the capital market raised trading volumes and new issues, and retested the human and technological infrastructure of the stock exchange." In its year-end report, the TASE also noted that over 2007, the market for ETFs, or Exchange-Traded Funds, continued to grow with the addition of 150 were added, bringing the total number of ETFs listed in Tel Aviv to 240, representing 18% of the trading volume in shares and 10% of the trading volume in non-government bonds. The public's holdings in ETFs reached more than $6b. The year also marked the launch of the Tel Bond-20 index, with the value of index products totalling some $900m. Among the changes the TASE is undertaking to adapt its indexes to international standards are mandating that 25% of a company's shares be publicly held before that company will be deemed eligible to join an index and requiring the weight of each company in an index be calculated according to the public float.