Hi! Sign in or Registration
Looking for Investors
Israeli Companies Map
Made in Israel Online Exhibition
World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv
Author  Amiram Barkat

World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv

From Globs

Last year, Rami Levy joined BTI, the group of businesspeople that supports peace with the Palestinians for the sake of the economy. When this step raised some eyebrows, Levy, a dyed in the wool Likudnik, stressed that his political position was still far from that of those who support the Oslo process. But in Oslo, it turns out, there has actually been a move in Levy's direction recently, or, to be more precise, in the direction of Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd. (TASE:RMLI).

This stock is one of five Israeli stocks that in 2013 became part of the of the investment portfolio of the Government Pension Fund of Norway, the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. At the end of 2013, the fund held shares in Rami Levy Chain Stores worth NIS 18 million, out of total holdings of NIS 3.5 billion in 62 stocks traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Was the decision to invest in Ramy Levy Chain Stores politically motivated? Unlikely. But in other instances of investment in Israeli companies, the fund has certainly acted out of avowedly non-economic considerations. So, for example, in January this year the fund announced that it was putting Africa-Israel Investments Ltd.(TASE:AFIL), controlled by Lev Leviev, and its subsidiary Danya Cebus, back on its blacklist.

This step was taken on the recommendation of the fund's ethics committee, which determined last November that the two companies were guilty of contributing to severe breaches of human rights through construction in East Jerusalem. As a result of this decision, the fund will sell off its holdings in Africa-Israel, which were worth NIS 7.3 million.

Another loser is communications equipment producer Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:MLNX). During 2103, the Norwegian fund liquidated its holding in the company, which only a year previously amounted to some NIS 60 million. Its holding in Emblaze Ltd. (LSE:BLZ) was also liquidated last year. Similar things have happened in the more distant past. In September 2009, for example, the fund decided to sell its holdings in defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) because it provided equipment for the separation fence.

Wary of the gas partnerships

These instances are perhaps discordant to Israeli ears, but the general picture of the Norwegian fund's activity is actually positive from an Israeli point of view. In the course of 2013, the value of its investment in companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose by 43% in nominal terms, from NIS 2.4 billion to nearly NIS 3.5 billion. Even discounting the boom on the stock exchange, the rise is impressive: the fund's proportionate holding in shares on the Tel Aviv 100 list grew by 21% last year, exceeding 0.5% of the total of shares listed.

At the same time, the fund raised it holdings of Israel government bonds from NIS 2.674 billion to NIS 3.75 billion. Another NIS 693 million of the fund's money is invested in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA). The fund's total investment in the Israeli capital market is thus nearly NIS 8 billion.

The fund's largest equity holdings are in Teva, the banks, and Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL), with the best performing stock being Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI). Apart from Rami Levy, it is noteworthy that the fund has added to its portfolio two gas exploration companies,Delek Energy Systems Ltd. (TASE: DLEN) and JOEL Jerusalem Oil Exploration Ltd. (TASE: JOEL). In both cases, the investment is in the parent company, and not in the partnerships they control, Delek-Drilling, Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L), and Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L), which could indicate aversion in principle to investment in limited partnerships.

What lies behind the growth in the fund's investment in Israeli stocks? Journalist Anders Horntvedt of financial newspaper "Finansavisen" points in this context to the decision by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance in the summer of 2012 to include Israel in its emerging markets index. "Beyond that, it is no secret that the current government in Norway holds more positive views on Israel than the previous government, and that certainly can't harm," Horntvedt adds.

Indeed, on October 16, 2013, a new government was sworn in in Oslo headed by a center-right party, replacing a coalition of left-wing parties that took an openly pro-Palestinian stance. Since then, the new Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, has declared her opposition to boycotting Israel.

Aharon (Orni) Izakson, who heads the Norwegian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, can testify to the warming of relations between the two countries. Izakson points to growing interest on the part of Norwegian companies in Israel's oil and gas exploration industry, and mentions an Israel-Norway business conference planned for November in Israel. "I hope that it will also be possible to promote the signing of an R&D agreement between the countries," he says.

Will we see more Norwegian money invested in Israeli know-how?

"I hope and believe that we will, although in my view it would be better to develop relations on a mutual basis, of investment by both sides."

According to Horntvedt, the Government Pension Fund of Norway will continue to increase its investment in Israel and to reduce its under-exposure to the Israeli market. "The fund is growing rapidly, and so there is every reason to assume that its investments in Israel will continue to grow," he says. "There is nothing at present to prevent the fund from investing in Israel, apart from matters relating to the settlements."

Do you think the ban on Africa-Israel will be broadened to other companies?

"Any company that has activity in East Jerusalem or in settlements on the West Bank runs the risk of being put on the blacklist. Like it or not, that is the fund's declared policy."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 9, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

Globes - World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv

 

More Articles of Home
Where biotech and high-tech meet
Executives in Israel for the MIXiii conference tell "Globes" about the future of medicine.From Globs2014 is positioned to go down in history as one of the stormiest years for biomed. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index has risen sharply, by tens of percentage points, since the beginning of the year - a process that opened the door to dozens of IPOs - but has recently lost ground.Pfizer is in talks to acquire AstraZeneca for more than $100 billion, the pharmaceutical and biotech companies continue to launch groundbreaking products, and the field of medical technology is in the throes of a revolution.Senior industry executives from around the world who participated in the MIXiii Israel Innovation Conference (which combined the Israel Advanced Technology Industries annual international biomed conference with a high-tech conference for the first time), spoke to “Globes” about the latest breakthroughs, gave forecasts for the future, and explained what brought them to Israel.According to Pitango Venture Capital General Partner and MIXiii Biomed Co-Chair Ruti Alon, “The forecast in the field of biomed is fundamentally complicated, due to of the interaction between political trends, such as globalization and different modes of distribution that bring Western diseases to new countries, and technological trends, such as genomics.“In light of this, we can expect continued pressure to lower prices, significant changes in marketing systems, broader use of Internet, and the continued rise in prominence of the consumer as a factor in decision making. In Israel, there is a deep understanding of what is required to develop HealthIT products, that will connect the medical community.”DFJ Tel Aviv Venture Partners General Partner and MIXiii Biomed Co-Chair Dr. Benny Zeevi said: “I believe the transitions from hospital care to remote care, from general care to personalized care, from treatment-based care to more preventive care, and higher patient involvement in treatment, will translate into a more pleasant patient experience, and greater commitment to maintaining therapeutic regimes as a result.””More holistic diagnosis and care”Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) seems to be one of the less familiar among the 20 big companies, but only because it is not publicly traded. The company has 50,000 employees, and invests 20% of its revenue in R&D, with an emphasis on internal R&D.The company has, in the past, been in talks to acquire an Israeli company, and has recently established a branch in Israel, headed by Orna Fiat Steinberger. The branch is responsible for running the company’s clinical trials in Israel.The company was established 129 years ago. It was founded by, and is managed still today, by the Boehringer family, and Ingelheim is the German city in which the company was founded. Today, the company has a rich pipeline of products. Chief Medical Officer Prof. Klaus Dugi points in particular to the new cancer drug Volasertib, a small molecule inhibitor that prevents cancer cells from dividing by attacking the PKL1 protein. The company is testing the product for leukemia treatment, and is currently in Phase II clinical trials.According to Dugi, the most significant scientific breakthrough of recent years is the recognition of the role that the mix of live organisms living in and on our bodies has in causing and preventing illness. “Today, using genome sequencing technology, we can know precisely what the genomes of our intestinal bacteria are. These genes, which are not exactly part of our bodies, apparently affect not only diseases of the intestine, but others as well. This knowledge can lead to entirely different medical diagnoses and treatments from those we know today - more holistic diagnosis and care.”Dugi claims that the patent cliff troubles the industry, but not BI, and it is likely to be less problematic for the industry in the future. “In a world where most newly approved products are biological, which are harder to duplicate, it is possible that patent expiry will be regarded differently, and less seriously, in the future.”The real industry crisis is not an R&D crisis, in his opinion is, but rather a budget crisis - governments are unable to maintain the health budgets necessary to create significant continued growth in biotech and pharmaceuticals, and drugs will soon need to prove that they save not only lives and suffering, but also money (as is the case for medical devices today). In order to do this, it will be necessary to improve existing patient monitoring data systems, and to match the best treatment to each patient.Fiat Steinberger says that: “The fact that BI is a private company allows it to invest in R&D without thinking about how the analysts will look at the bottom line next quarter, or even next year, and, therefore, we have many long-term plans.” The company has 90 research projects, and it classifies ten products (in eight categories) as “pre-launch,” which means they are either in advanced Phase II with good results in previous trials, post-Phase III, or they have already been approved.BI also has a venture capital fund that seeks out biomed companies to invest in, including companies in early stages of development that are not yet suitable for traditional venture capital funds. In 2014, the fund invested in a company called Metabomed, which at the same time received investments from the Merck Serono incubator in Yavne, from the Pontifax fund, and from the Technion technology transfer company. The company deals in treatments based on cancer metabolism - treatment through the resources that the cancer consumes.Using stem cells to regenerate tissueOver the past decade, Takeda Pharmaceuticals has gone from being a Japanese pharmaceutical company to being a global giant, competing head to head with the biggest global players. The company’s Israel office is headed by Arie Kramer. Following its acquisitions of US company Millennium Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a cancer treatment, and veteran European pharmaceutical company Nycomed, Takeda has become one of the most significant global powers in the pharmaceutical industry.Despite the acquisitions, Takeda, like all the major pharmaceutical companies, has been forced to contend with the patent cliff: the expiry of patents on leading products, while R&D fails to produce new products at the expected rate.“The patent cliff troubles the pharmaceutical companies and the investors,” said Takeda Head of R&D Tetsuyuki Maruyama, who was tasked with finding a solution to the problem, and has succeeded in doing so.“It seems that the worst is behind us,” he says, “And I believe that the industry has learned from it: to place less emphasis on bestselling drugs, and to vary the product offering.“A decade ago, large pharmaceutical companies avoided anything ‘difficult,’ like cancer, or rare diseases. The smaller companies proved that these are attractive markets, and now the big companies are scurrying to close the gap. We believe that this will happen also for the brain, so as larger companies leave this field, we focus on it.”What are the developments that are likely to have the most significant impacts on the future of medicine?“I believe in a combination of drugs and antibodies, where the antibodies lead the drugs directly to specific targets. Our company has such a product that should reach the market soon, after having waited for years for the right combination.“Using such technology, together with products that use the immune system to treat cancer, I believe that the medical world will actually reach a cure for cancer, and I am not the only one who believes this.“Another exciting technological development is the bacTRAP platform, which we loved so much that we bought the company that developed it. This is technology that allows us to look at changes in gene expression in specific cells in tissue that has many different kinds of cells, where each one expresses genes a little differently.“Using this focus, we can develop far more accurate drugs. This is true for many areas, but most of all the brain, which has a mix of cells. I believe that the field of regenerative medicine, using stem cells to regenerate sick tissue, will lead to breakthroughs.”Maruyama notes that Takeda owns a group called New Frontiers Science Team, which seeks technologies in advanced development stages and whose representatives were at the conference as well.What are the most interesting products in your pipeline?“We just now launched our first cancer drug based on a combination of antibodies and drugs. We are waiting on the launch of a new drug to treat Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, which is most effective for patients for whom existing treatments don’t work. We are focusing on the digestive system.”“Israel has an ideal mix”Becton Dickinson (BD) is a medical device supplier that deals in a broad range of products, including hospital lab equipment. The company specializes in cheap medical equipment that is manufactured in large quantities.“I have been with the company for 11 years,” said BD Director of Business Development Al Lauritano, “First, I headed the life science new business incubator in North Carolina, and I have basically held the same job ever since, only the job has grown.”Incubator? That must have been revolutionary, at the time.“We had an incubator from 1998 to 2008, into which we accepted mostly companies from academic institutions, but it wasn’t so successful. The business model was that after our initial investment, more investors were meant to join in, financial institutions, but, in order to attract such investors, the companies were forced to change their business models in directions that interested us less, as strategic investors. So we didn’t get what we wanted out of them.“We never really shut the incubator down, but we became very picky. In the beginning of this year we decided to establish a ‘virtual incubator.’ We won’t host the companies, instead, we will support them wherever they are. We won’t only invest money - we will also send our people. That way, we will be able to get to know the companies well.”In the coming year, BD will announce its first incubator company. “This is one of the reasons I am in Israel” says Lauritano.“We believe that Israel has an ideal mix of entrepreneurs, technology, financing, and operational infrastructure, including the support of the chief scientist. In April, we announced our participation in a collaborative project between the chief scientist and the international corporations. This summer, we will put out a call for opportunities in Israel,” says Lauritano, who worked at Israeli company D-Pharm in the past.Lauritano is particularly interested in combinations of information technologies in daily medical products. “Therefore, it makes sense for us that the conference brings high-tech and biotech together,” he says. He notes that many BD products are in competitive markets, where the product is manufactured by the millions (syringes and catheters, for example).“How can we bring added value to such a product? Adding information technology in or around it is one method. We see that hospitals need to improve their workflows, in order to prevent mistakes in drug administration and to make sure that patients follow through on the treatments that are prescribed to them. So we want as much information as possible to be entered into medical records automatically from our medical devices.”In the future, the company intends to help healthy people as well, “For example, diabetics, who are at the forefront of the population that monitors and manages its health regularly, every single day. Why shouldn’t all the healthy people, or people with chronic diseases, monitor themselves in such a manner in order to maintain optimal health? Our goal is to make a business of this.”What is the most interesting product you have launched in the past two years?“We surprised the industry this year when we announced that were opening a generic drug department. We have always had syringes that added value to drugs, and now, instead of selling them only to companies, we will incorporate generic drugs ourselves.”Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 26, 2014© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014 Taken from Globes - Where biotech and high-tech meet
Analysts: Israel to be attractive developed market
 Analysts: Israel to be attractive developed marketDeutsche Bank says although Jewish state will be alongside world's richest economies, its growth characteristics will keep more in line with emerging market Reuters  Published: 05.19.10, 10:28 / Israel Business    Israel will be an attractive investment after its upgrade from an emerging to a developed market this month in the MSCI Index, analysts say. Deutsche Bank said this week that although Israel will be alongside the world's richest economies, its growth characteristics will keep more in line with an emerging market. "(Israel) can offer active developed market investors the opportunity to enjoy emerging style growth and performance without having to invest off-index," the bank said in a report. Index compiler MSCI announced last June it would include Israel in its World Index and its EAFE Index, the third such upgrade in its history. When the May 27 reclassification takes effect, passive investors in emerging markets will have to sell Israel holdings. It may take time for developed market funds to take their place. "The Israeli economy is in relatively good shape. For a developed market investor, Israel would be quite an attractive place," said Andrew Brown, an investment manager at British firm Aberdeen whose emerging market fund has about $700 million in Israeli companies. "These stocks are of relatively good value," he told Reuters. "We will not rush to sell them." Foreign investors surveyed by Thomson Reuters Extel in March said the biggest challenge to the Israeli market would be the shift from comprising about 3% of MSCI's emerging markets index to some 0.4% of its developed market index. Fidelity International's Nick Price, portfolio manager of the Emerging Europe Middle East and Africa Fund, said the switch will not have any effect on his fund because of Israel's size. "I will stay with stocks that I like and I believe that most people will do the same," he said.  Top-heavy market A Citigroup report said $2.8 billion in passive outflows were expected from Israeli stocks with the change – but eventually would be more than offset by inflows of $3.6 billion. Foreign investors already hold nearly 30% of Israeli equities, mostly in top companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Israel Chemicals, Bezeq Israel Telecom and the largest banks, Leumi and Hapoalim. UBS and Merrill Lynch also view the move as a short-term negative with a more positive long term. The Tel Aviv 25 index hit an all-time high last month of 1,237.85 points, buoyed by strong economic growth. It has eased back to 1,162 with the global decline in stocks. The country recovered relatively quickly from the global crisis, its economy expanding at an annualized 4.8% rate in the fourth quarter and 0.7% for all of 2009. The central bank predicts growth of 3.7% in 2010.  Israel was also invited to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this month. The Bank of Israel said that while there is a chance of an ebb in passive inflows, in previous upgrades there was no evidence of a significant drop in the volume of investment.
Israel accepted into OECD
 Israel accepted into OECDFinance minister says new membership is 'stamp of approval', will attract foreign investments Zvi Lavi  Published: 05.10.10, 13:16 / Israel Business    The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) accepted Israel into its ranks Monday during a vote, as its 32nd member. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, currently in China, received an unofficial message from the organization, and an official statement will be made in Paris in the afternoon. The official invitation is to be handed to Steinitz at a convention of the OECD's finance ministers in Paris at the end of the month. Slovenia and Estonia were also accepted as members Monday. "The significance of this is huge and that is why, as a matter of fact, I decided to treat it as a top priority 10 months ago and enter into a special program to introduce Israel into the organization at a peak time," Steinitz told Israel Radio. "It is the most respectable international club a small state like Israel can be accepted into," he added. "From what we know about other states, in the years following the acceptance there is a rise of billions of dollars in foreign investments in the state accepted." Steinitz said Israel was being accepted into the club responsible for dictating the world's financial guidelines. "There is also a political gain here. We are receiving a stamp of approval… that Israel belongs to the world's most advanced and developed countries, and not just financially – in civil rights, a clean and independent court system, regulations, equality, and steps to eliminate discrimination," he said.  Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh issued a pleased response saying that "Israel's membership with the organization constitutes a label of quality." Treasury chief Haim Shani said, "The joining of Israel to the organization points to the trust companies have in Israel's economy and solidity. I believe the new membership will help Israel's society and economy progress, attract foreign investors, and develop the market."
up


Last Articles


Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2015 Jun 14
Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech From Globs Technology companies are looking for creativ...
Published by Dafna Barmeli-Golan
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Aug 31
World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv From Globs Last year, Rami Levy joined BTI, the g...
Published by Amiram Barkat
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Jul 07
Everyone wins when a big company acquires a start-up. From Globs Exactly three years ago,...
Published by Roy Goldenberg
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Jul 07
Executives in Israel for the MIXiii conference tell "Globes" about the future of medici...
Published by Gali Weinreb