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In its never-ending bid to turn Tel Aviv into a financial capital, a-la Wall Street or London, and foster ties with the Far East, the Finance Ministry last week made a placement of government bonds with Thai institutional investors, raising $124 million.

It was the first time the Israeli treasury had targeted Thailand specifically, but it was the sixth such private placement of government bonds, and the second in Asia. The first was about a year ago.

The bonds will be redeemed in a year. Finance Ministry accountant general, Yehoshua "Shuki" Oren made the offering as part of Israel's European Medium Term Note shelf offering.

His division also carried out a swap, exchanging the dollar commitment for a shekel one. The placement was underwritten by Barclays Capital, a major market maker for Israeli government bonds.

An Israeli bank took the other side of the swap deal. The combination of the private offering and the swap enabled the treasury to raise the funds in shekels at a lower interest rate: 0.56% under the same rate for shekel-denominated one-year bonds.

The treasury is looking to expose the Israeli economy to new investors from the Far East, Oren said.