Israel’s Market Regulator Unconvinced by Monday-Friday Trade

The chairman of the Israel Securities Authority said he won’t yet demand a change in trading days to align the country’s stock exchange with markets abroad, a move proposed by the bourse to lure more funds and boost volumes.

“I’m not convinced that the advantages of moving to a Monday-Friday week overcome the drawbacks,” Shmuel Hauser said in an interview in Tel Aviv yesterday. “That’s why I’m not going to insist on a change in trading days at this stage.”

Hauser said he will be in favor of the switch, which would entail changes to employment contracts and legislation, if it receives popular support. Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Yossi Beinart said on Dec. 30 that a decision on whether to change the trading week is expected in the first quarter of 2015 and that two banking members of the exchange still needed to give their feedback on the matter.

Israel’s only stock exchange is examining moving from the current Sunday-to-Thursday week as it battles flagging trading volumes and a lack of new listings. The switch may pave the way for inclusion in MSCI Inc.’s Europe Index, which would be a big boost to volumes, Artemis Investment Management LLP said in August.

The board of directors of the TASE and brokers in Tel Aviv support the proposed change, the bourse and Julien Assous, head of the TASE Brokers Association, said in August.

Meanwhile, the regulator is also working with a government committee to allow “closed-end funds,” Hauser said. These will raise equity on the exchange and can then double that amount with government-backed debt, he said, on condition the cash is invested in small and medium-size businesses.

“This will lower their financing costs,” Hauser said.

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