| TEL AVIV
TEL AVIV May 13 Israel's stock exchange hopes
to recover from a sharp downturn in its fortunes which cost the
jobs of two top executives last year with a new plan to boost
trading volumes, its recently appointed CEO said on Tuesday.
Yossi Beinart, chief executive officer of the Tel Aviv Stock
Exchange (TASE), said he planned to hire sales people to help
attract new company flotations and also aimed to allow trading
of companies not listed on the exchange.
Beinart, a former president and CEO of the North American
Derivatives Exchange (NADEX), took the reins at TASE in January
after longtime CEO Ester Levanon stepped down along with
Chairman Saul Bronfeld after criticism for not doing enough to
boost trading volumes.
Bronfeld was replaced by Amnon Neubach in March.
Beinart said the recruitment of sales staff was part of a
more active attempt to promote TASE's services - needed because
of the tendency of many technology-oriented Israeli companies to
list their shares on the U.S. Nasdaq exchange.
"We never went out to sell, we just waited for them
(companies) to come ... We have to be proactive and not be a
utility," Beinart told Reuters after a news conference on
"We have to go out and look for business," he said, adding
he would like to create a welcoming environment for biotech
companies in particular just as the Toronto bourse is a haven
for energy firms.
Beinart faces a challenge to revive activity on the bourse,
given its number of listed companies has dropped to 485 from 654
in 2007, while average daily trading volume has fallen sharply
the past two years.
Volume over the first four months of 2014 recovered somewhat
to nearly 1.3 billion shekels ($376 million) worth of shares a
day from 1.1 billion in 2012, but remains well below a daily
average of more than 2 billion in 2010.
Beinart said he would work to add another 100 companies to
TASE in the next five years and generate volume of 2.5 billion
shekels a day. He said his chief goal was to cater to small and
medium-sized companies and offer them a package of services such
as analysis, investor relations and road shows.
Neubach and Beinart said a plan by the securities authority
to turn TASE, owned by banks and other members, into a
for-profit exchange was moving forward.
"All of them understand something has to be done," Neubach
said. "When and how is too soon to say. But we hope (it will be
done) between a year and a year and a half."
Beinart also said the bourse was working on increasing the
number of entities which could be traded on the bourse,
including companies listed on other exchanges, such as Israel
stocks listed in the United States.
On the issue of regulation, which has grown since the global
financial crisis began in 2008, Beinart said there needed to be
some easing in reporting requirements, but argued regulation was
not as strict as some companies made it out to be.
"It may be a public relations problem," he said.
($1 = 3.4537 Israeli Shekels)
(Editing by David Holmes)