The fourth annual survey of Israeli multinationals is being released today. It was conducted by a joint team composed of the Foreign Trade Division of the Manufacturers Association of Israel; The Recanati School of Business, Tel Aviv University; the School of Business Administration, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC), a joint undertaking of the Columbia Law School and The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. The survey is part of a long-term, multi-country study of the rapid global expansion of multinationals from emerging markets. The results released today cover the year 2009.
In 2009, Israel's top 21 multinationals – ranked by their foreign assets – had over USD 15 billion in foreign assets (table 1), about USD 30 billion in foreign sales (including exports), and around 72,000 persons in employment abroad (annex table 1). Four firms − Israel Corporation, Elco Holdings, Teva, and Ormat − together accounted for three-quarters of the total foreign assets of the top 21.
The top 21 firms had 630 foreign affiliates. Just under half were in Europe, followed by North America and then Asia (annex table 2 and annex figure 2). Their presence in Africa is minimal. Twenty out of 21 firms were listed on one or more stock exchanges, including foreign stock exchanges (annex table 3). A significant number of firms were to be found in knowledge-based industries such as IT services, electronic hardware, pharmaceuticals and satellite networks. Annex figure 1 provides a breakdown of the foreign assets of the top 21 by industry.) All but one of the top 21 firms have their head office in Israel (annex figure 3).
The global financial and economic crisis, which had no noticeable effects in 2008, clearly did have an impact in 2009. Foreign assets remained unchanged, while foreign sales and employment declined perceptibly. The previous year’s (2008) growth in sales and employment abroad, however, was large enough to show a significant net gain over the three-year period 2007-2009 (table 2 in the main text).