JERUSALEM, July 10 (Reuters) - Tel Aviv Stock Exchange could pass the 2 billion shekel ($564 million) mark for daily trading within a year, Israel's securities regulator said on Monday, after several years of slumping trade volumes and few new listings.
The exchange has made major reforms aimed at boosting trade, including taking the exchange private, loosening regulation for companies looking to list and removing hurdles for new trading members.
"A few years ago our bourse was like a ship on a collision course with an iceberg," said Shmuel Hauser, chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, at a capital markets conference. "Open-heart surgery was needed, and that's what we did."
Average daily trade volume of 2.1 billion shekels in 2010 had halved by 2012, in part because Israel lost out on passive inflows following a market upgrade by MSCI. Only three new companies joined the exchange in 2012, compared with 22 in 2010, with many local firms preferring to list abroad.
But volumes have steadily recovered, reaching an average of 1.5 billion shekels a day in 2017, up 20 percent from 2016. And while the total number of companies on the exchange fell to 452 in 2016 from 600 in 2010, more new companies are looking to join.
"I hope trade volumes will grow to 2 billion shekels a day, and more, within about a year. I expect the number of new companies on the bourse to grow by more than 30 companies," Hauser said.
Hauser is also pushing the government to approve tax breaks for stock market investors and wants a foreign partnership.
"I look forward to cooperating with a foreign exchange. If not Nasdaq, it will be the exchange in London. If not London, the Deutsche-Bourse exchange, and if not that, the Toronto exchange," he said, without elaborating. ($1 = 3.5430 shekels) (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer and Susan Thomas)