Israel Extends Securities Authority Chairman's Term by Three Years

Finance minister says decision to extend Shmuel Hauser's term will give him more time to implement a plan to bring more investors back to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Moti Milrod

REUTERS - Israel extended the term of Securities Authority Chairman Shmuel Hauser by three years to give him more time to implement a plan to bring more investors back to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

The exchange, which despite a modest recovery last year has seen volumes dwindle since 2010, is in the process of being demutualized and turned into a for-profit entity.

Israel was deprived of a chunk of passive investments five years ago when it was upgraded to developed market status from emerging by index compiler MSCI.

Hauser's five-year term had been due to end in May but Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said he was extending his term so he could get the job done.

"We are beginning today a process of strengthening the bourse and restoring it to its place as the engine of the Israeli economy," Kahlon said, in reference to a draft law issued by his ministry.

The changes are designed to make the bourse more competitive and enable it to lower trading commissions, he added.

Kahlon said the exchange's trading days, currently Sunday to Thursday to match Israel's work week, will be changed to Monday-Friday to bring it into line with much of the rest of the world.

The exchange is currently controlled by its members -- brokerage firms who are largely from the banking system.

Changes to the structure should reduce conflicts of interest between management and the bourse's members and decrease the dominance of the banks, Kahlon said. The banks' representation on the exchange's board will fall to 35 percent from 71 percent.

Measures will also be implemented to encourage members of the bourse to sell their holdings and to bring in more international members, he said.

TASE's equity trading volume improved in 2015 to 1.4 billion shekels ($359 million) a day from 1.2 billion in 2014. But this was still below 2010's 2 billion shekel average.