The fourth annual survey of Israeli multinational enterprises (MNEs) is being released today. It was conducted by a team drawn from the Manufacturers Association of Israel, Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, and the Vale-Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC), the last 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 study of the rapid global expansion of MNEs from emerging markets (called the ‘Emerging Market Global Players project’). The results released today cover the year 2010.

Table 1 below lists the 20 leading outward investors from Israel, ranked by their foreign assets. The year 2010 marked a strong recovery for Israeli multinationals, after a year in which their foreign assets, sales and employment had all shown a decline, strikingly so in sales and employment (see table 2 below). That decline was fully reversed in 2010, as discussed below. The picture in 2010 was as follows: the foreign assets of the top 20 multinationals totaled nearly USD 16 billion; their foreign sales were just over USD 35 billion; and their employment abroad exceeded 87,000. Preliminary indications for 2011 are that the growth trend has continued during the first six months of the year, although the upheavals characterizing the global economy since the second quarter of 2011 (e.g., the Eurozone crisis) suggest that the trend may not continue during the second half of the year.

The top 20 Israeli multinationals had a total of 667 affiliates abroad (annex table 1), located mainly in Western and Central Europe and North America (annex table 2 and annex figure 2). The total number of countries in which these affiliates were located was 132. IT services and electronic equipment were the leading industries among the top 20 in 2010 by numbers of companies. Measured by assets, however, the leading firms were either diversified (conglomerates) or in the pharmaceuticals business (annex figure 1).

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