By his count, Haggai Alon has travelled to Sydney from his Tel-Aviv home seven times since the company he leads, Security Matters (ASX:SMX), listed on the Australian Securities Exchange seven months ago.
“I can certainly say I’m familiar with adjusting to the time zones now,” he told Star Investing.
“Luckily I’m good at sleeping on a plane — there are no phones, no emails coming in…it’s actually quite relaxing.”
Security Matters is just one of the dozens of Israeli companies which has either investigated, is investigating, or has listed on the ASX in recent times.
But Australia isn’t the only place he’s travelled since taking the Israeli ‘track and trace’ company public.
He’s criss-crossed the planet searching for commercialisation and trial partners for the company’s flagship technology.
His travel has paid off, with TMT Analytics effectively tipping a doubling of SMX’s market valuation.
However, despite the company’s international outlook, Alon says he remains committed to making Australia a home for the company.
“We are at a position where we are evolving, and I can’t put a date on it, but I’m confident that Australia will be our home,” Alon said.
“The only reason we haven’t fully shifted to Australia is because at this stage we’re trying to keep the company lean, and to fully move to Australia would cost a lot of money…but that’s our intention.”
“But we will always have an R&D operation in Israel and a base to serve European clients.”
Being an Israeli company with a public listing in Australia hasn’t been without its challenges, however.
Changing sleep patterns and disclosure
He says one of the biggest changes he’s had to make is to his schedule — given the vast time difference between Tel-Aviv and Sydney.
“I have a great commercial support team in Australia helping me of course, but I’ve had to change because I recognise that I need to be available for the majority of Australian business hours,” Alon said.
While Alon brushed off the dramatic change to his sleeping patterns, he said the biggest challenge associated with running a company on the ASX is the continuous disclosure laws associated with it.
“Since we are public, we need to make announcements about commercial activities, or potential commercial activities — but not everybody likes to do that — particularly where there may be sensitivities around IP protection,” he said.
“It’s not the natural inclination to disclose everything you’re doing if you’re not a commercial company.
“Customers or potential customers may not like it either, particularly as it basically tells everybody that they’re looking for a track and trace solution like Security Matters, and that can be sensitive information.”
But for all the challenges, he said doing business in Australia has been an overwhelming positive for him and the company as a whole.
“There’s an English elegance to it”
Anecdotally, several international investors have pointed to the stringent listing rules on the ASX as a reason why there aren’t more international companies on the local bourse — but also saying that may be a good thing.
“Being in Australia and doing the work we needed to do for our IPO, we can definitely say we’re a stronger company because of that scrutiny,” Alon said.
It’s a point not lost on international players when Security Matters enters discussions with potential partners.
“I think people really get that Australia is a great place to list when it comes to the requirements of listing and how that makes you a stronger company, but they can’t see the rationale of basing in Australia instead of the US or London from a strategic viewpoint,” Alon said.
Security Matters is attempting to provide and end-to-end verification tool for the movement of goods all over the world — and Australia offers a unique opportunity to get in at every stage of the manufacturing process.
“What makes Australia a unique market for Security Matters is that the economy is much more aligned to what we’re doing — obviously you have the minerals but then you have high-end manufacturing as well,” Alon said.
“So it’s a really great test market for our technology.”
But beyond what it’s bought the company, doing business in Australia has bought Alon a new perspective.
“I really enjoy doing business in Australia, because there’s an English elegance to it”
“Business in Australia is very face-to-face, which can slow things down a bit — but I really enjoy it.”
That face-to-face communication means a lot is said, but a lot is left between the lines — something Alon wasn’t used to, but is finding fascinating.
“There’s quite a bit between the lines when you’re talking to people which is understated but subtle, whereas in Israel people are much more direct,” he said.
“I see it as elegant, some things can have a softer tone.”
He said the support of the Security Matters story from the market had made being an Israeli company in Australia an easier journey — and that other Israeli companies had been so taken aback by the company’s success that they’re sounding him out.
“Israeli companies are coming to me and talking to me about what it’s like to list in Australia — and that’s great. I can definitely say more than one company that is in the process of investigating a listing has come to me,” he said.
But for Security Matters, with a swathe of trials deals under the belt and revenue coming into the company, the Australian adventure is just beginning.
This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with Security Matters. This content does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.
Don’t miss a thing, subscribe now