Thirty-five Israeli firms, 200 institutionals at CIBC equities conference

CIBC analyst says big American institutionals are keen to invest in Israel
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Thirty-five Israeli companies listed on Wall Street are attending the CIBC World Markets Sixth Annual Israeli-Related Equities Conference, starting today in New York.

The two-day conference, which begins this morning at the New York Marriott East Side, features 45 publicly traded companies, ranging from semiconductor and digital DVD chip-makers to defense contractors and pharmaceutical firms.

The conference gives Israeli firms a chance to meet with U.S. institutional investors.

The keynote presentation at mid-day Wednesday includes Dan S. Suesskind, chief financial officer of investor favorite Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA).

Among the participants in the conference are Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq:CHKP), Mercury Interactive (Nasdaq:MERQ), Koor, Orckit, ECI Telecom (Nasdaq:ECIL), M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers (Nasdaq:FLSH), Taro Pharmaceutical Industries (Nasdaq:TARO), Elbit Systems (Nasdaq:ESLT), and Alvarion (Nasdaq:ALVR).

Shaul Eyal, CIBC World Markets' equity analyst for the Israeli technology sector, said that some 200 institutionals will be attending the event. Some asked CIBC to invite several specific Israeli companies, including ones it does not cover, Eyal said.

Eyal added that big American institutionals are well aware of the potential of the Israeli market, and "have an appetite" for Israeli investments.

Three companies expected to attend have bowed out: MRV Communications (Nasdaq:MRVC), AudioCodes (Nasdaq:AUDC), and the DSP Group (Nasdaq:DSPG).

The most glaring absentee is Comverse Technology (Nasdaq:CMVT), which may be skipping the event due to its troubles at home, such as imminent dismissals.

Counting from 1991, CIBC has served as lead or secondary underwriter in $5 billion worth of offerings by Israeli companies, including the issues by BreezeCOM and Floware, which merged to create Alvarion (Nasdaq:ALVR).

CIBC also helped Koor Industries (Nasdaq:KOR) hit the public arena, as well as Zoran Corporation (Nasdaq:ZRAN), Orckit Communications (Nasdaq:ORCT), AudioCodes, M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers (Nasdaq:FLSH), ECtel (Nasdaq:ECTX), and the DSP Group.

CIBC also advises on M&As involving Israeli companies, including the acquisition of DSP Communications by Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) for $1.6 billion at the end of 1999, the sale of Teledata to ADC Telecommunications (Nasdaq:ADCT) for $200 million at the end of 1998, and the sale of Accord Networks in February this year to Polycom (Nasdaq:PLCM) for $339 million.

At the moment CIBC is advising Elron Electronic Industries (Nasdaq:ELRN) ahead of its merger with Elbit (Nasdaq:ELBT).

CIBC was among the first investment houses to realize the potential of Israeli companies, Eyal said, starting from the early 1990s. Israel is regarded as a emerging market, hence most of its companies trade at discounts, although leading companies are less prone to this.