Opko Health Debut in Tel Aviv Signals New Listings to IBI

The listing of billionaire Phillip Frost’s Opko Health Inc. on the Tel Aviv bourse last month signals more foreign companies will follow, Psagot Investment House Ltd. and IBI-Israel Brokerage & Investments said.

The Miami-based drug developer will be included on the benchmark TA-25 Index next month after it completed the acquisition of Nes Ziona, Israel-based Prolor Biotech Inc. Opko joins Perrigo Co., the Allegan, Michigan-based maker of over-the-counter medicines, which entered the Tel Aviv gauge after buying B’nei Brak, Israel-based Agis Industries Ltd. in 2005. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, has the second-biggest weighting on the gauge.

“The Israeli market is very attractive, particularly for pharmaceutical companies,” Ori Licht, head of research at Tel Aviv-based IBI-Israel Brokerage & Investments, said by phone from Tel Aviv yesterday. “We hope it’s a new beginning.”

Shares of Opko rose to a record on Aug. 30 in New York and are set for a 79 percent gain this year. The stock slipped 0.9 percent to $8.51 at 10:31 a.m. in New York. The Tel Aviv shares fell 0.8 percent to 30.59 shekels, or $8.53, at the close in Israel. The benchmark TA-25 Index of stocks advanced 1.6 percent, the most since Jan. 1.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday said an “unbelievably small, limited” military strike will be enough to halt Syria’s use of chemical weapons. The benchmark TA-25 Index gained for a second day, advancing 1 percent to 1,191.39.

Foreign Suitors

Shares of Opko started trading in Tel Aviv on Aug. 22, enabling it to pay shareholders of Prolor in locally listed stock as Opko seeks to complete the acquisition of the Israeli drugmaker.

Google Inc. in June acquired map-software provider Waze Inc., founded in Ra’anana, Israel, and International Business Machines Corp. announced last month it will form a cyber-security software laboratory in Israel after buying Trusteer Inc.

“Acquisitions of Israeli public companies by international concerns has been a driver in the past for increased listing of foreign companies,” Zach Herzog, head of international sales at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said by phone yesterday. “Certainly one can expect if more acquisitions such as this take place that we would see a larger number of international companies list in Tel Aviv as a consequence.”

IPO Shortage

The listing comes as initial public offerings have dried up in Tel Aviv. In June, Kadimastem Ltd., a developer of stem cell therapies, became the first company to list on the Israeli bourse since the end of 2011, compared with a record 56 IPOs in 2007, exchange data show.

Companies, including Hot Telecommunication System Ltd., a telecommunications company, and ELAD Canada Inc., a real estate company owned by billionaire Isaac Tshuva, have also pulled off the exchange, which had 549 stocks in 2012. Israel Chemicals Ltd., the Tel Aviv-based company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizers and potash, said last month it’s preparing for a dual listing in part to shield itself from worsening conditions on the local bourse.

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