These new rulings, and the experience that has been gained in recent years by all the players in the capital market and judicial system, are on top of the huge changes that will be brought into effect by the instructions of the Business Concentration Law, and regulatory attempts to increase competitiveness and open up the economy to new players. All these bring with them a new economic structure for the entire economy.
If in the past, the belief was that only strong regulation will lead to breaking up control of concentration and distortion of powers in the economy, then we are witness to a new situation today. The struggle by many institutional bodies for changing the conciliatory approach that has characterized many of them in the past, and the insistence on maximizing contributions to the bondholding public, can be the cornerstone for welcome change in the Israeli economy in general, and the capital market in particular.
All the signs indicate that the manipulations, the leverages, and the financial acrobatics that led to distortion in the capital market and control mechanisms of companies, are reaching a boiling point. In the past, these distortions prevented new players from entering the market. The new conduct by institutional bodies, together with the enactment of the Business Concentration Law, is expected to stimulate a rally in demand and put in place appropriate standards for managing companies, and a more stable and supervised capital market.
The Israeli economy has been built over the past two decades on shaky foundations. A small number of tycoons succeeded in concentrating control of most of the economy's largest corporations. The control was based on highly leveraged acquisitions, mainly through public money from various funds and pension funds, and the banking system. In this way, these tycoons also gained vast power and influence through their ability to direct the corporations' real operations, and especially their ability to appoint their close relatives to desirable positions with large salaries and many perks, which of course are also financed by that same public money. As a direct result of this, the good real corporations were compelled to service the debt returns requirement of the holding companies and the companies owning them. The withdrawal of aggressive dividends and parties-at-interest deals were the daily bread of all these companies, and everything was in order to let the tycoons service that credit that had been taken from the public and the banks. This credit has been taken in order to finance the acquisition of control and building business pyramids.
As long as the process worked, an illusion of continual growth was created. However, when repayment dates were reached, and the option of recycling debts was reduced as a result of the global crisis, the charm became a bubble that burst on the heads of the entire economy. It is now up to us "the sane capitalists,' to recognize that against the background of the changes being formulated, there is an even deeper social change that is a direct continuation of the social protests that began in the summer of 2011. Most of the social processes and parallel economic processes to this are expected to come to fruition during the coming year. The control structure of the tycoons in the old economy are crumbling and consequently a real opportunity is being created to build a more stable and distributed economic market with the involvement and control of new bodies from Israel and abroad, with activities based on a real platform of growth and genuine economic operations.
Most of those who were succored by the milk of the "old order" over the years are currently putting fear into us and talking about their concerns and that the tycoons will leave the country and that the foreign and new players who will come along are not worthy or will have only speculative motives. Indeed, the difficult developments that the economy has gone through might have put it in danger of collapse. And it was actually those "tycoons" and especially those who financed their capital from public money that put the economy into this existential danger. Despite these developments, and despite this conduct, real economic activity in Israel is still healthy and growing. The loss of control by old capital groups actually opens up new and healthier investment opportunities in the Israeli economy. Already over the past year we have seen the entry of huge international corporations, and in particular global private equity funds, investing in Israel. A long list of negotiations is currently being conducted for the purchase of Israeli operations, either as part of distress acquisitions or insolvency proceedings as well as routine deals. Beyond the immediate advantages of a capital flow into the Israeli economy from overseas, these international investments also send a message to the domestic economy about appropriate norms of conduct. The foreign investors even hold Israeli institutional bodies, which manage more than a trillion shekels belonging to the public, which has the status as fund members. In contrast to the past the institutional bodies have learned to show initiative, creativity and involvement in developments. They have shown that it is possible to act independently and not to continue being captive to the false charms of some of Israel's tycoons.
The change that is expected to take place as a result of their acquisitions, developments and management of the real corporations themselves, is ultimately expected to improve them and the entire economy for the benefit of all those involved; customers, financing bodies, or investors and the entire public. These corporations will also gain the trust of investors after their real cash flows can serve them for the credit that was taken from them and to transfer real profits to the new controlling shareholders. The continual pressure on these corporations to inject capital upwards in the pyramid to return leveraged debt will cease. Whoever sticks to these rules can seize opportunities and create for themselves a platform for genuine operations and capital that is not based on endless leveraging.
At the same time, regulation must also examine itself in light of the new situation in the field and focus on reforms that will encourage the flow of external capital into the economy, increase competitiveness, restrict monopolies and cancel obstacles to entering sectors that today it is not possible to operate in due to the connections between "capital and government". There is currently a need for effective regulation that looks towards the future and not that simply corrects yesterday's errors. The andiron Committee might have a key role in outlining the right way forward on this matter.