U.S. bor­der bar­rier could be boon for Is­raeli se­cu­rity firm

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Isaac Scharf

YEHUD, Is­rael — The Is­raeli com­pany that has built high-tech fences along the coun­try’s volatile bor­ders is try­ing to build a bridge to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion — hop­ing to use its ex­pe­ri­ence to cash in on Pres­i­dent- elect Don­ald Trump’s plan to seal the bor­der with Mex­ico.

Ma­gal Se­cu­rity Sys­tems has been a ma­jor player in build­ing high-tech fences and walls along Is­rael’s north­ern and south­ern bor­ders, as well as the mas­sive sep­a­ra­tion bar­rier that snakes along the fron­tier with the West Bank. Its prod­ucts in­clude cam­eras, so­phis­ti­cated sen­sors, ro­bots and soft­ware to op­er­ate the sys­tems.

“We be­lieve that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is go­ing to in­crease its se­cu­rity bud­gets in the up­com­ing years and def­i­nitely we look forward to take part in it,” com­pany CEO Saar Koursh said. In­vestors seem to agree. The com­pany’s shares have surged on the Nas­daq Stock Mar­ket since Trump was elected pres­i­dent Nov. 8, while trad­ing vol­ume has surged in some cases by Is­rael, a leader in the build­ing of bar­ri­ers, puts up a fence along the bor­der with Egypt. more than 150 times the pre-elec­tion lev­els. Its shares were trad­ing at $5.97 apiece Fri­day, up 34 per­cent from its $4.45 clos­ing price Nov. 8.

Ma­gal was es­tab­lished in 1965 as a branch of the state-owned Is­rael Aerospace In­dus­tries. It was pri­va­tized 15 years later and has traded on the Nas­daq since 1993. Ma­gal has served cus­tomers in over 80 coun­tries, in­clud­ing air­ports, the sea­port in Mom­basa, Kenya, and sport­ing events and util­i­ties

With mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion be­low $100 mil­lion, the com­pany is much smaller than po­ten­tial com­peti­tors, which could in­clude ma­jor global elec­tron­ics and con­struc­tion firms. But it’s a leader in a coun­try that is a global leader in the build­ing of bar­ri­ers. .

Is­raeli de­fense of­fi­cials con­firmed Ma­gal’s projects have in­cluded not only the West Bank bar­rier but a 150-mile struc­ture that has halted an in­flux of African mi­grants across the Egyp­tian bor­der as well as a high-tech fence sep­a­rat­ing the Ha­mas­ruled Gaza Strip from Is­rael.

Vic­tor Bar-Gil, a for­mer Is­raeli De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial who worked with Ma­gal to for­tify the bor­der with Le­banon, said the com­pany did “very thor­ough and pre­cise work.”

“It was work that had to be done re­ally ur­gently. The military was with­draw­ing from Le­banon and a fence needed to be built very quickly and this fence was built,” he said.

Koursh be­lieves that if the Mex­ico bar­rier is built, it will be sim­i­lar to Is­raeli struc­tures that in­clude a com­bi­na­tion of fences and walls equipped with cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy.

“It is de­pen­dent on so many fac­tors, in­clud­ing the type of wall, the type of fence, (and) the type of sen­sors that you want to put on the fence (that) it’s hard for me to es­ti­mate but for sure this will be a mega project,” he said.

David Holtz­man, a fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst at Is­rael’s First In­ter­na­tional Bank, said Ma­gal is con­sid­ered a world leader in the con­struc­tion of se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers but cau­tioned that the run-up in its stock price is spec­u­la­tive.

“It is important to re­mem­ber that cur­rently we still do not know yet whether ev­ery­thing that Trump has promised prior to the elec­tion he will in fact carry out,” he said.

DIAA HA­DID/AP 2012

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