Esther Levanon, Chairperson of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, gave the below interview on CNBC this morning. A few comments:
1. If Israel wants to attract serious foreign investment and liquidity to the TASE, it needs to get the liquidity up in the big companies and that means loosening the grip of the "Tycoons" on the big companies. We need a carrot approach that gives tax relief to tightly controlled companies to sell their stock to the public. This would also help retire a lot of the debt they have on the books.
2. Getting more liquidity on the TASE and the deal with the NYSE could possibly help Israel's tech companies raise later stage funding, for which there is a severe shortage in Israel. We need local liquidity options to jump-start that funding base.
3. While Mrs. Levanon has done a much better job than any of her predecessors in getting the word out on Israeli financial markets and in expanding their global reach (I have now seen her twice on CNBC and interviews in the written press), we need to get her some help and training in English. Like many Israeli spokespeople from the Foreign Ministry down, press training and English language skills are sorely lacking.