Is Mercury Coming Home to Roost?

Local stock exchange's overture to Fab Four may finally start to pay off

Shirley Yom Tov, Yoram Gavison
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Shirley Yom Tov, Yoram Gavison

For years Tel Aviv Stock Exchange officials have wistfully dreamed of the day the local screens would boast Israel's four tech giants: Mercury Interactive (Nasdaq: MERQ), Comverse Technologies (Nasdaq: CMVT), Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq: CHKP) and Amdocs (NYSE: DOX). None ever showed the slightest interest in a local listing, however, and if pressed to the wall, each would point out the needless expense and the insignificant volumes of trade.

Sam Bronfman, general manager of the exchange, and Yair Orgler, its chairman, had wooed the four tirelessly but fruitlessly for years. Now Mercury may be the first to make aliya, Bronfman hinted yesterday, at a ceremony welcoming Shamir Optical as a new dual-listed company. The kibbutz firm, which makes advanced lenses, went public on Nasdaq in March.

"It embarrasses me that foreign investors come to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange wanting to invest in one of the big technology companies, but the list I can present is woefully short," Bronfman said. "There's no reason why Comverse, Amdocs and Check Point shouldn't be registered here too, and I won't mention the fourth, which has one leg in the local market already."

Bronfman went as far as to thank Moshe Terry, chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, for joining the effort to bring the Fab Four to Tel Aviv.

Mercury started its multinational career as a startup in Yehud. Today it is a global giant selling computerization optimization software. Its value on Nasdaq is $3.6 billion, having risen 2 percent in the last year.

Mercury made no comment for this report.

Check Point Software Technologies founder Gil Shwed and its chief financial officer Eyal Desheh were recently asked about a dual-listing. Their response indicates that it is not on the cards.

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