Can Israel's New Capital Markets Chief Stand Up to Special Interests?

Moshe Bareket replaces Dorit Salinger as Israel's capital markets commissioner

Israel's new capital markets commissioner, Moshe Bareket
Ofer Vaknin

Moshe Bareket was chosen Monday as Israel’s new capital markets commissioner replacing Dorit Salinger, in a much-expected move.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon appointed Bareket to head the Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings Authority. Bareket was one of two people to receive a recommendation from the Finance Ministry committee charged with finding a replacement for Salinger.

Bareket is currently a senior financial adviser for banks and investments, and was previously chairman of Phoenix Holdings and Phoenix Insurance, and was also a board member for Delek Group companies and Elad Europe. He had also managed the corporate division of the Securities Authority, and worked in the Bank of Israel’s banking regulation department.

He has an MBA from Columbia University, and was a lecturer at Duke University.

Nothing in Bareket’s resume should raise suspicion that he’s not fit for the job; he has a long resume of relevant experience.

But there’s one crucial question that doesn’t appear on any resume – what stuff is Bareket made of? Is he capable of standing up to the pressures of the new job? Will he remember unfailingly that his new job is to protect Israelis and their insurance from all the other sectors of the economy?

His detractors argue that he was too recently employed by some of Israel’s largest companies. One person who worked with him at the Securities Authority said, “My impression is that he’s a weak person.” Bareket hesitated to get into arguments, he said.

A senior accountant said, “You can’t ignore the fact that while Bareket was head of the Securities Authority’s corporate division, the tycoons were partying. Particularly IDB, but also other companies.” While Bareket had no ill intentions, he simply didn’t take strong enough action to stop them, said the source.

Other acquaintances say Bareket is a fine choice.

“Bareket is efficient and very clever, he knows to read his environment, he’s a pretty skilled politician and can get along with nearly everyone,” said a former senior Securities Authority employee.

Doron Shorer, a former capital markets commissioner who had previously served as director general of the Transportation Ministry, and said the most surprising part of the job was the outsize media and public exposure he received as capital markets commissioner, compared to his previous post.

Israel’s insurance market needs to undergo a major upheaval to reach a level of regulation on par with that of Israel’s banking sector. Salinger paved the way for building an independent capital markets commission, but she didn’t finish the job. Bareket’s task will be to reinforce this base while remembering that many powerful forces will try to undermine him in the process.