Bill Ackman on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange deal: 'Wanted to buy more'

Following up with his purchase of nearly 5% of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the Jewish billionaire endorses stock calling it a 'bargain'

Sophie Shulman/Calcalist|
Jewish billionaire Bill Ackman, who manages one of the world's largest hedge funds, addressed the deal on which he purchased 4.9% of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on his X (formerly Twitter) account Wednesday, saying, "We wanted to buy more but that’s all they had available for sale."
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ביל אקמן
ביל אקמן
Bill Ackman
(Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)
Ackman’s post came following an interview published in Calcalist with Richard Handler, CEO of the U.S.-based Jefferies Financial Group, who led the sale for 353 million shekels back in January during the height of the war in Gaza.
I am grateful to Rich Handler for bringing Neri and me the opportunity to invest in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The best businesses in the world are capital-light franchises which own the right to collect royalties on a compounding base of assets. TASE is a unique non-disruptible franchise in one of the most entrepreneurial economies in the world,” Ackman continued, explaining his logic behind purchasing a stake in the stock exchange.
"The TASE is a royalty on the growth of Startup Nation available at a bargain price because of the war and associated uncertainty. I was very impressed with management, their business plan and their technological capabilities. The company was effectively a mutually owned entity held by the big Israeli banks. It now is a public company with entrepreneurial management. Worth a close look," Ackman wrote, ending his post with what could be described as a recommendation to purchase the stock.
Ackman was the largest investor in the stock exchange deal, in which many other foreign investors also participated. This is the Jewish billionaire’s first investment in Israel, whose net worth is estimated at over $4 billion, which he accumulated through his firm Pershing Square Capital Management which he founded and now heads worth $18 billion.
Ackman is considered one of the most activist investors on Wall Street who often expresses his opinions on his X account, and has primarily dedicated his account to fighting antisemitism, supporting Israel, and being a leader in the fight against antisemitism on the campuses of U.S. Ivy League universities since the start of the Gaza war. Ackman, a Harvard alumnus, is considered one of the key and influential figures who led to the dismissal of the university’s former president Claudine Gay.
In another series of tweets, Ackman addresses the question raised in Handler’s Calcalist interview as to the nature of the investment that some see as philanthropy toward Israel – as Ackman purchased the stocks privately instead of via his own company.
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איש העסקים האמריקני ביל אקמן
איש העסקים האמריקני ביל אקמן
Bill Ackman
(Photo: AP / Richard Drew)
"First we tried to buy enough to matter for the funds, but the company had only $25m for sale, and there was no reasonable prospect of buying enough to matter. Our typical position size for stocks today is $1.5 billion or more. Such a small position would still require investment team time, but without any impact on our returns,” Ackman explained.
In his interview, Handler, who also led the initial public offering of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange alongside foreign investors, noted there was still demand for its shares among parties working with his bank.
“There are a lot of people who were very frustrated that they missed the deal to purchase a stake in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange after they saw it. I'm talking about American businessmen, very familiar names. It's true that they are pro-Israel, but they are first and foremost sophisticated investors. Not all of them are Jewish either, this was not a deal by Jews or pro-Israelis, but a deal by veteran businessmen who wanted to make money.”
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