Israel's ThetaRay mulls listing as cash pours into tech sector

DUBAI (Reuters) - Israeli cyber security firm ThetaRay is considering a potential stock market listing, encouraged by investors who have poured money into the technology sector over the past year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

While Mark Gazit said the company was focused on expanding in the United Arab Emirates and surrounding Gulf region, recent tech valuations had made a listing appealing.

“We see the market is booming. Valuations are going (through) the roof. I don’t know how sustainable it is so it is a question of time,” he said at a Dubai hotel.

Tech valuations have soared as investors bet more economic activity will shift online due to the coronavirus crisis.

London, Tel Aviv and Australian exchanges have approached ThetaRay about listing, which is also interested in the Nasdaq, Gazit told Reuters.

No decision has been taken on the venue nor has it hired advisers and a listing might not happen, he said.

ThetaRay, which has raised $100 million since starting in 2013, uses artificial intelligence to identify financial cyber threats such as money laundering or banking fraud.

Its investors include GE, Israel’s largest lender Bank Hapoalim and Israeli investment firm OurCrowd.

ThetaRay will soon open its first UAE office in Abu Dhabi or Dubai but will eventually have a presence in both, Gazit said.

The UAE could contribute tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue, while the Gulf could account for hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly revenue, ThetaRay estimates.

Israel and the UAE last year established diplomatic relations, opening the door to what officials from both countries have touted as significant economic opportunities.

“The top priority for us is to open an office here and to start working with more clients here,” Gazit said.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Jason Neely