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Doing Business in Israel

Contributed by Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz

Business Environment

Pursuing and advancing its reputation as the “Start-Up Nation”, in 2017, the State of Israel continued to emphasize innovation at the forefront of its culture and business environment. The international Bloomberg Innovation Index of 2017 ranked Israel as the 10th largest country of innovation. More than ever, Israel offers countless investment opportunities for global and domestic strategic partners, private equity and venture capital firms. Individuals can also invest in Israel as angel investors, as limited partners in venture capital funds focusing on Israeli investment, through crowd funding and public offerings around the globe.

This prosperity of  Israel’s Start-Up Nation is reflected by the record sums invested in local innovation-driven companies and the increased sum-per-transaction across multiple industry segments, from cyber security and AI to biotechnology and medical devices.

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Legal market overview

The development of Israel's vibrant legal market mirrors that of the country's economy, which is a regional powerhouse. The corporate space is dominated by hi-tech work, which lures inbound investment from, in particular, the US and China. Indeed, a number of staggeringly large M&A deals in the past year highlight Israel's prominence in hi-tech; one notable example being Intel's $15.3bn acquisition of Mobileye – the largest M&A in the country's history. One of the few outliers in the otherwise wavering global capital markets, Israel's market has remained relatively healthy: the country has attracted foreign real estate companies that can list securities more competitively in Israel than at home, and 2017 also saw a number of tech IPOs.

The country's legislative and regulatory regime is, at times, tumultuous. One of the legislature's most recent targets has been the real estate sector, which is seeing significant changes to residential taxation and the establishment of nationwide affordable housing programmes. An exciting and important aspect of Israel's real estate market is Pinui Binui projects, or urban renewals, which account for an increasingly significant amount of real estate development and domestic investment activity.

Multinational corporates regularly highlight the truly international quality of many Israeli firms. This, in conjunction with the sheer abundance of law firms – which drives down prices (Israel has more lawyers per capita than any other country on Earth) – has essentially made Israel a de facto closed legal market, despite having lifted legislative restrictions in 2012. However, two international firms – Greenberg Traurig P.A and Yingke Israel - Eyal Khayat, Zolty, Neiger & Co., Law Offices – maintain an active on the ground presence in Tel Aviv.

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