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London's the business, Boris Johnson tells Israelis

Published 09/11/2015

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is pushing British business interests on his trip to Israel
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is pushing British business interests on his trip to Israel

Boris Johnson will push Israeli companies to treat London as their "first priority" when expanding outside the Middle Eastern country.

The London mayor has flown into the financial centre of Tel Aviv to kick-off a three-day trade mission in which he will mix business meetings with political talks in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Conservative MP will press representatives of Tel Aviv's business community to follow other Israeli firms by investing in London when he hosts a reception in the city tonight.

Clarisite, which works with organisations to analyse how customers use services, has used Mr Johnson's visit to confirm that London will become the home of its global headquarters.

Medical company AposTherapy has also confirmed its European headquarters will be in London after previously announcing it planned to use the UK for such an office.

Mr Johnson's trip i s likely to be re garded as not only an attempt to boost London's standing on the global stage but his own too, ahead of a future Tory leadership contest.

Officially opening trading at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was his first scheduled duty alongside Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and UK tech businesses.

The LSE says 16 Israeli technology companies listed across its markets have a combined market value of £3.7 billion.

This sector accounts for 76% of all Israeli companies listed on the LSE, it adds.

Mr Johnson said he regards London as a "natural tech partner" for Israeli firms willing to expand.

Mr Rathi also noted Israel is "world-renowned" for its record in "nurturing" technology start-up companies, adding: "We believe London is the natural destination for these companies when they look to raise finance to grow on the international stage."

During a visit to Tel Aviv's Google campus, plans to bring 20 Israeli start-ups to London will be announced.

Central Working's chief executive James Layfield, the latest person to be appointed by Mr Johnson as a technology ambassador for London, said his organisation would provide space and access to business support for the firms in the capital as they seek to ensure they "expand and thrive in a new market".

Mr Johnson will travel to Jerusalem and the Palestinian city of Ramallah later this week.

He also plans to lay a wreath during a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust, and play football with Arab and Jewish youngsters.

After opening the stock exchange, Mr Johnson said: "Normally when I turn on any stock exchange around the world - in New York I did it and London - what happens is they immediately get what they call a sea of red.

"But I'm delighted we already have a Red Sea here - there's a joke there somewhere - in Israel.

"I'm looking at the ticker tape over there and it's green folks, everybody seems to be buying shares today - and quite right too because this is an extraordinary place to invest.

"Above all it's a most incredible economy."

Before he left the stage, Mr Johnson added: "Well done the stock exchange. It seems to be turning a bit red now. Never mind. Shares on the whole seem to be going up. I'm an optimist at heart."

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