Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Attracting Foreign Biotech Firms

Navidea Biopharmaceuticals and BioTime to begin trading in Israel on Tuesday.

Bloomberg

A week after Dublin, Ohio-based Navidea Biopharmaceuticals announced it will be dual-listed as of this Tuesday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in addition to existing trading on the New York MKT exchange. Another American biotech company, BioTime of Alameda, California, has followed suit and will begin trading in Tel Aviv the same day.

After BioTime announced the move on Friday, its stock jumped 8% to a market capitalization of $268 million. The company’s business activity involves the development of cell-based therapies and, like Navidea, it is traded on the New York MKT exchange, formerly known as the American Stock Exchange.

Both companies are expected to be included in the Tel Aviv-75, the Tel Aviv-100 and the Blue Tech indexes. BioTime’s share volume on Friday in New York was $312,000, but Navidea’s was $2.4 million.

The listing of BioTime and Navidea on the Tel Aviv exchange came at the initiative of Ilan Gerzi, a partner in the Israeli law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz. The firm is hoping to be a major force in encouraging other medical firms to list on the Tel Aviv exchange, a move similar to what lawyers Rafi Lipa and Gal Amit did in wooing players in the American real estate sector to the TASE.

When it comes to Navidea, it currently has one drug on the market, Lymphoseek, with others in the pipeline. BioTime is a holding company that has two Israeli subsidiaries, including Cell Cure Neurosciences of Jerusalem, in which it has a 63% stake and Life Map Sciences of Tel Aviv. HBL-Hadassit Bio Holdings, a publicly traded subsidiary of Hadasit, the technology transfer company of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. HBL is also traded on the Tel Aviv exchange. Among BioTime’s products is OpRegen, which was developed through the use of stem cells for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among older patients. BioTimes most sizeable holding, however, is its 58% stake in Asterias Biotherapeutics, which is also on the NYSE MKT exchange and has a market cap of $170 million. It is working on products for use in the fields of neurology and oncology.

“There is a very strong biotech investor base developing there [in Israel],” Navidea CFO Brent Larson told the Columbus Business First publication. “The English-language process to get listed on the TASE was more direct and cost less than European exchanges and it’s roughly the same hours.” TASE CEO Yossi Beinart noted that Navidea, which expects to be included in five TASE indexes, including the Tel Aviv-75 and Tel Aviv-100, the Blue Tech and the Biomed index, joins 46 other cross-listed companies on the exchange. Presumably BioTime makes that 47.