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Technology investor briefs senators on potential foreign investment deal-breakers in legal system

AN Israeli tech investor said a country’s legal system is a major consideration in attracting foreign investment, and urged legislators to reform the tax system and investment regulations.

Or Haviv, an Arieli Capital partner and the firm’s head of Global Innovation, said at a forum organized by the Israeli embassy that “the devil is in the details” when it comes to evaluating the legal system of a target company’s home country.

“If I see a legal system that’s going to be problematic for me, I’m not going to go there, that would kill the deal,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the roundtable discussion.

“How do we create a business infrastructure that is attractive to investors, that takes care of their interests, that tells them: be relaxed, if you have problems, these are your rights, this is what you do, this is how we can help you protect your rights, your position in the companies; and that’s how you attract outside forces,” he added.

Mr. Haviv and representatives from the Israeli embassy met with Senators on Monday in connection with the opening of an exhibit showcasing Israel’s innovation projects in the Philippines.

Mr. Haviv did not provide specific details of their “initial discussions” on the proposed reforms, but added that Senators must think more internationally and less so in terms of local issues and concerns.

“Get out of the mindset of local and start thinking global,” he said. “You need to think about how the Philippines can create value for the world, not just for the Philippines, because if you create value for the world, the world will come to you and the Philippines will benefit.”

Arieli Capital invests in emerging technology, deploying capital provided by high-net-worth individuals, family funds, private banks, and financial institutions.

He said the Philippines as an investment destination has a number of things going for it, including fluency in English, its potential as a gateway to other Asian markets, and a desire within the country’s leadership to improve its technological capacity.

“I heard a lot of desire to do things coming from the Philippine Senate. I think it’s great, but I think the question is, follow-up. Is there going to be follow-up?,” Mr. Haviv said. “I believe there will be. I sensed good vibes in the room, from the people.”

“If we get some partnership with the Senate and the people, then it would be a good start,” he added.

Mr. Haviv described the concentration of call centers in the Philippines as emblematic of its “low-tech” niche, which he said can be leveraged when it upgrades its technology.

“You can take this experience in low-tech in call centers and turn it around,” he said, noting that in Israel, military and security experts were turned into cyber and information technology specialists.

“So, if you take people that manage thousands of people in call centers and manage millions of customer support systems, and turn them into high-tech solutions, that can create a lot of demand for big companies like Amazon that are hiring them today as call centers,” he added.

Upgrading technology will also require government involvement, Mr. Haviv said, such as incentives and simplified dealings with companies.

Ambassador Ilan Fluss, who was speaking at the event, said the Israeli delegation will also be meeting with other government agencies to discuss more government-to-government collaboration. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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