More than 10 exchanges eye Tel Aviv bourse stake: source

FILE PHOTO: An electronic board displaying market data is seen at the entrance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in Tel Aviv, Israel January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - More than 10 foreign stock exchanges have shown interest in buying a controlling stake in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), a source close to the exchange said on Tuesday.

TASE last September demutualized and became a for-profit exchange, offering to buy out its shareholders to list on its own bourse in 2019 at a value of about $150 million.

Itai Ben-Zeev said this month that TASE has commitments from member banks to buy back 71.7 percent of their shares, a stake that will be sold to a large foreign exchange as a strategic partner ahead of going public.

Member banks would retain a 22 percent stake in TASE while TASE employees own another 6 percent

TASE has until April 18 to accept the buyback offer.

“More than 10 exchanges have signed nondisclosure agreements,” the source told Reuters, declining to elaborate.

Israeli media said they included exchanges in London, Toronto, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Warsaw but the source declined to confirm. TASE officials declined to comment.

Ben-Zeev has said he was in talks with a number of exchanges but did not say who or how many, adding “I believe that we will have for sure” a deal with an exchange by mid-April.

The Tel Aviv exchange aims to become competitive, cheaper and more efficient after seeing around 200 de-listings over the past decade and trading volumes slump. In 2017 stock trading averaged 1.4 billion shekels ($402 million) a day, up slightly from 2016 on a rise in IPOs but below 2 billion shekels in 2010.

Reporting by Steven Scheer, editing by Ed Osmond