Israel’s only public stock exchange, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, has launched an English site in an effort to make the exchange more accessible to foreign investors. On Monday, the English version of its MAYA website for corporate disclosures of TASE-listed companies was made public, and now 54 companies with a combined market value of 280 billion Israeli New Shekel (NIS) are listed on both the foreign exchange and TASE, with shares trading on both exchanges. In a further effort to make the exchange accessible to foreign investors, the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) has also encouraged firms to file their reports in English as well as Hebrew, as is common practise.
For any amateur investors out there, it is worth noting that having access to multiple exchanges and having stock listed on several exchanges is meaningful because it increases a stock’s liquidity, meaning there are plenty of shares available for market demand. Take Amazon stocks price by way of example. It has just made history, having risen for the ninth straight week in a row. But because it is listed on multiple exchanges, such as the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, its value could theoretically multiply.
The move to amplify foreign investment comes in light of growing interest in Israeli listed companies by investors around the world. Considered a global hub of innovation and a breeding ground for tech startups, Tel Aviv in particular has garnered a reputation in recent years as the world’s “second Silicon Valley”. More than 75 Israeli companies have now succeeded on the global stage, becoming multi-billion dollar ventures and proving that the small but talented nation has a lot to offer the business world.
Until now, the MAYA website has served as the main website for those investing in the Israeli capitals market. Known for hosting TASE announcements, corporate filings, new issues schedules, and so forth, it has at last outgrown itself. As was predicted early on, many of Israel’s small and mid sized companies have now outgrown their home market, meaning they now must contend with the fierce competition of multinationals and local players in the foriegn markets. In fact it took a handful of internationals to bring the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange public last year: foreign Investors from Australia, U.S. and Denmark joined U.S. hedge fund Manikay Partners to acquire the majority stake in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which put it on the road to becoming a publicly traded company.
Israeli has become particularly appealing to foreign investors for numerous reasons: its hi-tech capacity, its high-skilled and multilingual workforce, and its strong R&D sector. It boasts strong and stable private consumption, rising real wages, and enjoys a very low unemployment rate of just four percent. In 2013, significant offshore reserves of natural gas were discovered off the coast of Israel, enabling new development opportunities and reducing the country’s dependence on energy. Israel is among the world’s leading technologically advanced free market economies, and ranks 35th out of 190 economies as ranked by the World Bank in its Doing Business 2020 report – something very telling indeed. Many believe the strong work ethic that is drilled into each and every Israeli as a result of their compulsory army training has helped Israel’s growth as a small nation of highly ambitious workers.
“The mindset of military service excellence is instilled in every citizen from childhood,” said chairman and chief scientist of the Israeli Innovation Society, Dr Applebaum, to Forbes. “You [as an individual] know that you will be stretched to the extreme limits of your abilities… a good deal of that drive has to stay with people throughout adolescence and as they enter the workforce. The army teaches you teamwork and the skills to make life and death decisions. Given our global reliance on [mission critical] software, a lot of the technology we touch every day is also responsible for our personal welfare at a similar level.”
At the same time, foreigners remain wary of investing in Israeli companies and are cognisant of the many obstacles to the country’s economic development. There remains chronic instability due to the regional political context, the state maintains a very large public debt, and a relatively high corporate tax impacts any business conducted in Israel. Regardless, Israel attracted a record $21.8 billion in foreign direct investment in 2018, and the peoples’ dedication to developing new technologies to solve some of Israel’s most pressing issues has tempted vast numbers of multinationals from around the world to set up R&D centres within its borders. The future for Israel, it appears, is a bright one.
The new English version of the website includes a corporate fact sheet for each listed company, principal shareholders, corporate securities and financial performance. Currently, just seven percent of the website’s total investors live outside the country, according to TASE.