ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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Billionaire investor Ackman, wife buy 5% stake in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Investment is part of sale of 18.5% stake in TASE to investors in Israel, the US, Europe and Australia, generating a total of $65 million in net proceeds for local bourse

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Billionaire William Ackman, left, and wife Neri Oxman, an Israeli-American designer and professor. (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images/JTA)
Billionaire William Ackman, left, and wife Neri Oxman, an Israeli-American designer and professor. (Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images/JTA)

Amid the ongoing war with the Hamas terror group, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, and his wife, Israeli-born designer and academic Prof. Neri Oxman, have acquired an almost 5 percent equity stake in the Tel Aviv bourse.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) announced on Wednesday that local as well as foreign investors purchased an 18.5% stake in the exchange for a total of NIS 242 million ($65 million) in net proceeds. Among the buyers are the Ackman couple who agreed to invest about $25 million, or 4.9%, the bourse said.

“The transaction drew robust interest from investors across Israel, the United States, Europe and Australia, reflecting a strong vote of confidence in both the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the Israeli economy at large, in particular in this difficult time,” TASE said in a statement.

Israel is 110 days into a war which erupted following the Hamas-led massacre in the south of the country on October 7 in which some 1,200 people were slaughtered and about 250 were taken hostage. Since the deadly onslaught, Ackman, the founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, has spoken out publicly to express his support for Israel calling for the release of the captives.

“Owning an exchange in a country with tremendous long-term growth potential is one of the best investments you can make,” Ackman and Oxman said in an e-mailed statement. “Investing in the TASE of ‘Startup Nation’ is precisely that.”

“It represents our support for Israel, and our confidence in its economy and long-term future,” they added.

Illustrative: View of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, November 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ackman, a Harvard alumni, has in recent weeks also been a vocal campaigner on X to push out former Harvard president Claudine Gay, criticizing her failure to handle antisemitism on campus and commenting on the accusations of plagiarism against her.

TASE did not provide any further details about the names of other investors participating in the transaction. The sale was held after a compromise agreement was reached in December between the country’s banks — Bank Hapoalim, Mizrahi Tefahot and the First International Bank of Israel — which previously held the shares and the local stock exchange. This comes after the banks were forced to sell their shares as part of the privatization of the Tel Aviv bourse.

The Tel Aviv bourse said it intends to use the net proceeds from the deal for investment in its technology infrastructure.

“Supporting the local capital market is more important than ever at this time,” TASE stated. “The proceeds from the sale will allow the stock exchange to continue to operate in order to develop the stock market and perfect the local capital market for the continued growth of Israeli companies and the entire economy.”

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