Taking Stock /Waiting for You

So, when are you coming?

Yes: if you haven't grasped it yet, your absence has been noted. It's been quite some time by now, so you'd better get a move on. The delay is getting a bit nerve-wracking.

Your entry has become the key question in the business arena. Every corporate and investment manager, every last shareholder knows that with all due respect to the stock market's latest leaps - unless the general public gets back into shares, the gains cannot persist. Mainly, corporations and shareholders won't be able to sell any more shares for cash.

So, speaking for all those all those tycoons and shareholders and executives and all the heroes and zeroes of our stock market, we take it on ourselves to remind you - ladies and gentlemen! Where are you? Your attendance, or mainly your money, is required - for stocks, for bonds, for mutuals, for offerings and for the secondary market. So hop to it! Note ye well, these are top-tier, serious people who have been waiting for quite some time now for you to step in.

l Nochi's waiting for you, Dankner that is, a true-blue star, a leader. He just bought control of one of Israel's biggest holding companies for a not-low price of a few hundred million dollars. The purchase forced him to borrow about a quarter-billion dollars from banks and pension funds.

Theoretically, he's supposed to return the money the traditional way, using dividends from the company he bought - IDB Holding Corporation (TASE: IDBH). But that won't be so easy, because the pyramid structure of the group he bought means that for every shekel distributed to affiliated companies, he himself gets only a few dozen agorot.

Which is why Nochi's waiting for you. He needs to replace those bank loans, which have a tendency to be expensive and restrictive, with loans from the public - meaning, he wants to sell you bonds, which when the good times are rolling, tend to bear low interest rates and no shackles at all.

He is waiting for you to defray some of the credit he'll need to sell as many companies and stocks as possible, as fast as possible. Unless you hoof it and play your part, the chance of seeing a jump in share prices is not great. So please show a smidgen of consideration for his needs.

l Ofer's also waiting for you. A great guy, Ofer, energetic, lively and vivacious. He controls this big group of companies that have, among other things, a whole tree of businesses in the media sphere. Since taking over the group 15 years ago, every few years Ofer customarily raised fresh capital on the market to finance his businesses, most of which are cursed with scant profitability.

In fact, without raising money, Ofer's businesses would look a lot less alluring. So, show some sympathy. Ofer hasn't had a chance to sell securities for cash for some time now, and it's starting to bother him.

l Itzik is also waiting for you, and he's one of the coolest dudes on the floor - funny, charming and smart as a whip. He spent the last decade building an empire of corporations, mainly through selling shares to the public at every opportunity, and selling bonds at bottom-crawling interest rates every time the institutional market showed any appetite.

But the IPO market has been dead as a doornail for the last 18 months. Maalot even downgraded his bonds to BBB-minus and he had to start divesting companies and assets. He needs you now, more than ever, to set his businesses straight.

l Shmuel also anxiously awaits your gracious entry, and take it from us, he's the salt of the earth. Six years back he and his family bought control over a major bank using credit taken from another bank. Since then, share prices have collapsed, bank stocks have crashed and he's having terrible trouble meeting interest payments on his loans.

With the public so recalcitrant, all his family's efforts to sell bonds failed. All he wants is to see the public get back into stocks, bonds and mutuals, because then the banks' profits would recover, dividends would be possible again, share prices would climb, new credit lines would open up - and he could weather the bad times.

l Eliezer's also waiting for you. Salt of the earth - or king of the castle, maybe. A real tycoon, who unlike some of the others on this list, was always careful to buy companies that actually generate reliable cash flows. But in the recent boom he also got carried away a tad, and borrowed a few billion to buy companies, some for slightly excessive prices.

It always worked out for him in the past, partly because every few years Tel Aviv's IPO market would wake up and he'd hit it running with bond offerings. But the market is playing dead and the banks aren't being as friendly as usual, which is making Eliezer a hair edgy.

l Oh, and what about Ronen, Tsahi, Yair, Meir, and Ronit - a swell bunch! Young, talented, fast on their feet and feisty - they're the people who would take the securities, package them nicely, affix a ribbon and sell them to you with a cherry on top. Trust them, they'll find reasons for you to buy the stuff and thank them, too. You won't be sorry, either, until the next market slump.

The above list is partial, of course, nor is it representative. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of businessmen and bankers and shareholders - not to mention a whole industry of people who manage other peoples' money - dying to see you.

So please show a little consideration, folks. There are too many people waiting for you to continue blithely on your merry way, ignoring events on the stock market.