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Financials

UPDATE 1-Tel Aviv Stock Exchange appoints new CEO to smooth relations

(Adds details, chairman’s comment)

JERUSALEM, Nov 3 (Reuters) - The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s (TASE) board has appointed Itai Ben-Zeev as chief executive starting in 2017, the bourse said on Thursday, as it tries to fix a breakdown in management relations.

Ben-Zeev, 41, will replace Yossi Beinart who told the Globes financial newspaper last month that his relationship with board chairman Amnon Neubach was “tense and unbearable”.

The TASE has been battling a drop in trading volume and company listings and that, according to Israeli media, has caused friction between management and the board’s chairman.

Ben-Zeev joins from Bank Leumi where he was head of its capital markets division and had responsibility for the bank’s proprietary portfolio trading totalling 120 billion shekels ($31.5 billion). He has also worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Israel and London.

Neubach on Thursday said he will act as a non-executive chairman by the end of the first quarter of 2017, focusing solely on managing the board and that there will be “clear lines” of power between him and the incoming CEO.

“Ben-Zeev brings the qualities and experience needed to successfully deal with the many challenges facing us, among them ... repairing relations with the workers and their committee and setting strategic targets for the coming years,” Neubach said.

Gal Landau-Yaari will stay on as acting CEO through the end of the year. Beinart has been on a leave of absence due to illness and announced in September that he would resign.

The TASE is in the process of a demutualisation plan that has already been approved by the bourse’s members and Israel’s government and is awaiting parliamentary approval.

The plan aims to make the exchange more competitive, enable it to better cooperate with foreign exchanges and end Israeli banks’ control over the exchange.

Trading volumes this year have averaged 1.25 billion shekels ($328 million) a day, down from 1.45 billion in 2015 and 2 billion in 2010. The number of companies listed on the bourse has dropped by 200 over the past decade to 453 while there are few public share offerings.

Securities regulator Shmuel Hauser has partly blamed the bourse’s woes on an anti-business environment in Israel as well as hefty regulations that the agency is in the process of easing.

$1 = 3.8138 shekels Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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