The second half of 2018 was characterised by a sharp decrease in the number of equity and debt initial public offerings in Israel and a significant rise in bond yields. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) and the Israeli Securities Authority continue to promote various initiatives to encourage non-Israeli issuers to list on the TASE, including the publication of a bulletin clarifying the rules that apply to the public offering of securities, listing and delisting and ongoing disclosures by dual-listed companies.
The Corporate Finance Department at the Israel Securities Authority recently issued its Staff Legal Bulletin on dual-listed companies. The bulletin is a summary of the most up-to-date information on the issuance, reporting, listing and delisting of dual-listed companies and is intended to clarify and reflect these processes for dual-listed companies and companies considering dual listing.
The Law for the Reduction of Cash Use, which came into force on 1 January 2019, imposes certain restrictions on the use of cash and cheques that do not name the payee. The law aims to reduce cash transactions in an effort to fight financial crime and money laundering and foster the use of more modern and efficient payment methods. Violation of the law may constitute a criminal offence, resulting in financial penalties and imprisonment.
An inter-ministerial committee was recently set up to promote the establishment of publicly traded funds for investment in infrastructure. The committee was formed to examine and recommend measures and actions that would encourage the establishment of traded infrastructure funds in order to increase the availability of financing sources for infrastructure projects, reduce the financial costs of these projects and enable small investors to directly participate and own these projects.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed that the liability for breaches of reporting obligations in the secondary market by dual-listed companies is governed by the securities laws of the foreign trading jurisdiction. The governing law with respect to the liability of a dual-listed company's external auditors is also the law of the foreign jurisdiction in which the company's shares are traded.
The Israeli Securities Law was recently amended with the goal of making the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) more competitive, efficient and profitable, by changing its ownership structure. This change of ownership structure will allow private investors, in addition to institutional investors, to acquire means of control over TASE. This can be viewed as a privatisation of sorts, as TASE is Israel's only stock exchange and is widely viewed as a national asset.
Israel has seen a growing trend in debt initial public offerings by US and Canadian real estate companies with income-producing real estate, as well as in the listing of the bonds for trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In recent years, more than 30 such real estate companies have completed public debt offerings in Israel, the large majority of which were initial public offerings.