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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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The Israeli Dash to the NASDAQ

Shmuel Zysman

Shmuel Zysman
Photo Credit: Ranit Nachum-Halevi

“The Jewish brain continues to invent new things like it always did,” said Shmuel Zysman, the founder of ZAG-S&W, who was asked to explain the rousing success of Israeli biomed firms listed on the NASDAQ. “There’s tremendous productivity, extraordinary innovation, technological creativity, leadership and management structures that instituted a global vision from day one,” he said. “These are the ingredients for success that we have noticed among our clients.”

“This hasn’t changed, and we always discover a new dimension,” he said. “We saw this in the hi-tech field, and today it’s biotech. There’s no reason to be surprised. There’s something very bold, innovative, and creative in the Israeli mind, and today Israeli biomed is what is happening when it comes to IPOs. There’s no doubt that we are seeing a wonderful year. The numbers are tremendous and they speak for themselves.”

The law firm of ZAG-S&W serves as the model template for a powerhouse Israeli-American firm, with branches in New York, Boston, Washington, Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. It also has desks in India and Europe. The firm’s clients worldwide receive legal and commercial service 24 hours a day, seven days a week thanks to its team of Israeli, American, and Chinese attorneys. In the U.S. alone, the firm handles over 15 Israeli companies whose shares are traded on the NASDAQ.

“There are a few reasons at the root of the interest in Israeli companies,” Zysman said. “As an international law firm, our investors are usually foreigners as well as people who have a unique familiarity with the field in which they invest. They know exactly what the risk is, and what the reward is, and they wait for Israeli companies to offer their wares.”

“Compared to other foreign biomed companies, the Israeli companies come with a lower price tag,” he said. “If an Israeli company and an American company offered the same product, the American brand would be much more expensive. That is why some of the speculative investors see Israeli firms as having far more potential because the upside is much bigger. Also, Israeli companies have a good reputation. The investors realize this, and they carefully consider every Israeli company that comes in.”

For years now, Israel has become a center for biomed companies. It has enjoyed the benefits of foreign investors who have been attracted by the potential the country offers. Israel has numerous biomed and biotech hubs nestled in industrial parks in Rehovot, Caesarea, Haifa, and Yokneam. Within the next few years, Be’er Sheva is expected to turn into a technological greenhouse in the wake of the ribbon-cutting of the Bionegev Innovation Cluster.

The Israeli biomed community is gradually gaining a reputation worldwide, and it is expected to become a model for others to emulate, just like hi-tech. The success of Israeli companies in the American biomed market stems from all the changes that took shape in the health field in the United States last year. Nonetheless, most of these changes pose new challenges to Israeli firms, requiring them to adjust themselves accordingly with the latest developments.

This will not be an easy undertaking. That is why there are those who believe that the success we have seen recently is indicative of a bubble. To buttress their argument, they point to the triple- and quadruple-digit returns. Ultimately, however, not all of these IPOs will pan out.

“I’m aware of how some analysts are talking in terms of this being a bubble,” Zysman said. “These companies are capable of making tenfold profits of any other company. That is why there is an element of risk versus reward because there is a certain risk that some of these IPOs will ultimately not lead to the desired result, which is an effective, safe drug or a life-saving medical device.”

About the Author: Ranit Nachum-Halevi is a consultant to real estate companies, and former senior real estate correspondent for The Marker, Haaretz's daily financial supplement. She has been working in Israel's media for more than 15 years. You can reach her at ranit.nh@gmail.com.


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