November 2, 2017 / 11:59 AM / 2 years ago

Looking east, Israel may allow more stock exchange dual listings

* Israel pivoting east for economic growth

* Hong Kong exchange included Israel as approved country

By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Israel wants to attract new companies to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by allowing them to dual list on more markets, particularly in Asia, where local firms are increasingly looking to raise money.

The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) has drafted an amendment to add Hong Kong, Singapore and Toronto to its list of recognized exchanges, which is currently limited to markets in the United States and London.

“Recently there has been growing interest among Israeli companies to register to trade in far east markets, among them Singapore and Hong Kong, whether due to a business affinity to those markets or because of the view that these are attractive capital markets for fundraising,” the proposal said.

It will allow such companies to “return” to the Tel Aviv bourse, an advantage the ISA said trumps concerns that dual listings could become the dominant arrangement.

The move piggybacks on a broader push by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to strengthen economic ties with Asian countries.

It also coincides with a decision the Hong Kong stock exchange made earlier this year to add Israel to a list of places from which it accepts companies.

Teresa Ko, China chairman at international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and non-executive director at the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong, told Reuters that Hong Kong is “now seeking to attract innovative, top-flight tech companies inside as well as outside of China, including Israel”.

“This is an important step to remain in line with cutting edge capital markets developments globally,” said Ko, who visited Israel this week.

Chinese investment into Israel jumped last year more than tenfold to a record $16.5 billion, with money flooding into the country’s buzzing internet, cybersecurity and medical device start-ups. And in July, Narendra Modi became the first sitting Indian prime minister to visit Israel in a bid to spur trade.

The Israeli amendment will be discussed at a public hearing and then needs government approval, a process that could take several months. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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