JERUSALEM, March 22 The Bank of Israel allowed
Altshuler Shaham Investment House to raise its holding in a
banking corporation to 7.5 percent on Wednesday, the second such
approval this year.
Israel has responded to pressure from investors to allow
investment banks to be able to hold larger stakes in banks so
that their shares can be more easily traded by issuing a permit
that allows a long-standing limit to be breached.
It permitted investment bank Meitav Dash to increase its
holdings in a bank in January.
Institutions had told the central bank, which regulates the
sector, that the existing limit of 5 percent prevents them from
raising their holdings of bank shares on behalf of the public.
It also adversely impacts trading of bank shares and has a
negative knock-on effect on their market values, the central
bank said. Israel's two biggest banks, Hapoalim and
Leumi, are the biggest stocks on the Tel Aviv Stock
Exchange's (TASE) blue-chip index.
The change in policy enables the controlling shareholders in
such institutions managing customers' funds to hold up to 7.5
percent of a bank, subject to receiving a permit.
"This is a correct and fair policy of the Bank of Israel,
similar to an accepted holding of up to 10 percent globally,
which works for the benefit of the investing public and also
positively influences the tradability of bank stocks and their
values," Ran Shaham, co-CEO of Altshuler Shaham said.
In most advanced economies, including the United States,
Britain and France, the holding percentage that requires a
permit is 10 percent and in some countries it is 15 percent.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Alexander Smith)