The Bank of Israel today began investing a small part of its $77 billion in foreign currency reserves in US stocks. The central bank's latest Markets Division report states that the new Bank of Israel Law (5770-2010) allows the Bank of Israel to make equity investments, and that it began to do so today.
The Bank of Israel will invest $1-1.5 billion in US stocks, 2% of its portfolio. The report adds that the Bank of Israel has been investing in public bodies in developed countries since 2010.
The Bank of Israel said that the investments in US stocks would be made through UBS AG (NYSE; SWX: UBS) and BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) The Bank of Israel's Markets Division, which specializes in bond investments, will not be handling the equity investments. It added that the traders will have very limited discretion, and that they may only quote leading indices, in order to reduce the risk.
"We have almost no exposure to countries with big problems. We constantly examine where we invest the foreign currency reserves, and I can promise you that you can relax," Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer said at a closed conference in mid-January.
"The Bank of Israel does not disclose the currency composition of its portfolio, especially not the composition of its equity portfolio," says the Bank of Israel. At the January conference, Fischer said, "Imagine if we were to begin publishing where you invest, so when you stop buying the bonds of a particular country, and this is published, we'll get complaints. That is why we do not publish." He added, "We have an external committee that conducts the examinations. You can assume that we're aware to the fact that there are problems in certain countries."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 1, 2012
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