Led by IPOs, Israeli tech exits jump to record $15 billion in 2020 -PwC

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli high-tech exits jumped 55% to a record $15.4 billion in 2020, boosted by a rise in companies holding public share offerings in the United States and Tel Aviv despite the coronavirus pandemic, a report from auditing and consulting firm PwC showed on Tuesday.

Technology is a key economic growth driver, comprising nearly 10% of Israel’s workforce.

Some 19 Israeli tech firms held initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, led by Lemonade, JFrog and Nano-X in the United States and Ecoppia Scientific and Aquarius Engines in Tel Aviv.

IPOs accounted for $9.3 billion of the exits total this year, up from $2.2 billion in 2019, PwC said, noting the average value per IPO also rose to $489 million from $169 million.

There were also 60 acquisitions of Israeli tech firms, down from 80 in 2019 but the average deal size rose to $257 million.

The computing and software sector led the exits, with total value of deals of $7.4 billion, followed by the Internet and life sciences sector.

“It is too early to talk about the end of the crisis and many tech companies are actually experiencing challenges, but it may be possible to start, with due caution, hoping COVID might be soon behind us,” said Yaron Weizenbluth, partner and head of tech at PwC Israel.

“The impact of the pandemic is likely to linger for quite a few years, and some are here to stay and be a new normal. But whatever turns out, one thing is beyond debate, and it is that technology and its different derivatives are vital and will only be enhanced,” he added.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Jeffrey Heller