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Israeli Stock Exchange to Get Its Own EDGAR

[TEL AVIV] The Israel Securities Authority, Israel's answer to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is poised to issue a tender to develop Israel's answer to EDGAR, the SEC's online financial information database, for Tel Aviv Stock Exchange companies.

"We are shortly going to issue a request for proposals for an outside company to develop and implement the system, which will be in use in a year," said ISA information systems manager, Natan Hershkovitz.

"We will start with a few companies, the biggest on the TASE 100, and then expand to all 100 companies a year after, and then to all 700 public companies in Israel," he said. SEC's EDGAR, which stands for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval, is already up to its 7.0 release, which was implemented in May 2000.

Hershkovitz has been in contact with the SEC to discuss the Israeli "EDGAR" and says that the ISA's version will be similar to the American system, which is currently nearing the end of a three-year modernization project.

The primary purpose of the system, says the SEC, is to "increase the efficiency and fairness of the securities market for the benefit of investors, corporations, and the economy" by providing access to and analysis of all the data that a public company is required to disclose.

The system that Hershkovitz is looking to develop, which does not yet have a name, takes this goal even further.

"It will include other aspects that EDGAR doesn't, such as trust funds," he said. "[It will cover] anyone who has to disclose information to the public or the ISA, which is a larger definition than the U.S.'s definition."

Another difference is linguistic: while non-Hebrew speakers will be able to search in English, the ISA's system will not take responsibility for translating any Hebrew documentation. The companies will have to do that themselves.

The system will also be designed to handle companies with dual listings on both the TASE and the NASDAQ in New York like Magic Software (MGIC), for example. Such companies are not required to translate into Hebrew anything they submit to the ISA which has already been submitted to the SEC, and thus their material will appear in English.

Israel is looking for a company with experience solving the linguistic issues related to Hebrew text to develop the software, which may mean that only Israeli contenders qualify. Until the request for proposals has been completed, Hershkowitz preferred not to disclose the budget set aside for the project.

In the meantime, until the new system is operational in a year's time, the TASE is expanding its Web site, which is currently English-only. In the next few weeks a Hebrew site will be launched where interested parties can read all the news releases by TASE companies as they are posted to the TASE.