TASE to add Israeli Arab companies

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange lays out plans to list more foreign and Israeli-Arab companies.

TASE new 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Sambach)
TASE new 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Sambach)
The head of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plans to recruit more foreign and Israeli Arab countries to trade on the exchange.
“We are trying to bring new companies to the stock exchange” Ester Levanon, CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange told The Media Line. “We stared looking into Arab companies in Israel. Arab companies in Israel do not have a stock exchange to invest in, nor to place an IPO [Initial Public Offering, the introduction of a company to the stock exchange]. We think that they should look at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and that we should look at them.”  
Azrieli Group makes a splash on TASE
The stock exchange is also investing heavily in international recruitment.
 “We have made it our goal to attract more high tech companies, not only from Israel but from Asia and Europe as well,” Levanon said. “One of the things that we are doing is conferences outside of Israel. The next one is July 1 in London, when we are bringing the leading companies of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to meet with European investors and investors from all over the world, with the governor of the central bank [Bank of Israel] Prof. Stanley Fisher as the keynote speaker.” 
Dr Roby Nathanson, Director General of the Macro Center for Political Economics in Israel, told The Media Line that the reason why there are no Israeli Arab companies on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at the moment was more due the structure of the Israeli Arab sector than any form of discrimination. 
“I don’t believe there is a deliberate idea that Israeli Arab companies should not be part of the stock exchange,” Nathanson told The Media Line. “Many segments of the Israeli business community would encourage businesses run by Israeli Arabs on the stock exchange.” 
“The reason has more to do with the structure and underdevelopment of Arab sectors [of Israel],” he said. “This has to be taking care of in the first place. Then in the future maybe we will see Israeli Arab companies on the market.”
“In the last year the Arab sector started to transform from its traditional structure where most people work in agriculture or construction towards more business oriented professions such as high tech and service providers,” Nathanson said.  
Levanon said that while the Tel Aviv exchange is not going to compete with the NASDAQ in the United States, she believes the exchange to be very strong, with over 130 small and large companies already listed.
“It’s the only stock exchange in Israel and Israel is a great country with a great economy,” Levanon said.
“We are concentrating not only on Israel but on the global market, trying to attract investors to Israel and trying to diversify companies on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange,” she said.
Between 25 to 30 percent of the stocks on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange are owned by foreign investors.
“If you look back over the last five to ten years it was almost the best stock exchange in the world in terms of growth and yield for the investors,” Levanon said. “So it’s not a one time success but a prolonged success tied very tightly to the success of the Israeli economy.”
The Israeli economy managed to get through the global economic crisis better then most developed countries due to what analysts site as the country’s ability to adapt.
“These days we are relatively okay,” Yair Saroussi, Chairman of Bank Hapoalim, one of the largest banks in Israel, told The Media Line. “I think that if we compare ourselves to others, I think we have relatively improved over the last two years. Like everybody else, we are watching and looking forward, hoping that things will start to recover.”