The British Barclays Bank has been granted permission to become the fifth foreign bank to open up a commercial branch in Israel.
“The banking supervision department welcomes the expansion of activity of international banks in Israel, and believes this will increase competition," the Bank of Israel said.
Barclays has followed up with an application to become a member of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Operating a commercial bank is a condition for membership, which allows a bank to establish brokerage operations.
Citibank, HSBC, The French-based BNP Paribas bank and the State Bank of India are currently operating in Israel, and Citigroup and HSBC already are TASE members.
Barclays opened up an office Israel in 2008. It originally maintained operations in pre-Mandate Palestine in 1925, but its Barclays Discount Bank was bought out by Israel's Discount Bank in 1993, changing its name to Mercantile Discount.
Three years ago, Barclays bought the investment banking operations of Lehman Brothers and re-opened offices in Israel under its name.
Israel is attractive for foreign investors, and the local stock exchange hosts several companies that also are listed on NASDAQ in New York, where Israeli companies make up the largest number of listings, outside of the United States and Canada.
Direct foreign investment in Israel in June increased to $500 million, well above the average $410 million in previous months this year. Most of June’s investments were in high technology, according to Bank of Israel statistics.