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Informa employee snubbed Israeli tech firm citing company policy

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An Informa employee attempted to deny an Israeli company access to an event in London, underlining the tensions western corporations must manage as the conflict in the Middle East rages.

An employee at the publishing-to-events group incorrectly told an Israeli tech company last week that Informa’s sanctions and compliance policy blocked the firm from buying a ticket to the conference in London, according to email correspondence seen by the Financial Times.

The Informa representative told a prospective delegate from the Israeli firm that the FTSE 100 group did not accept “any registrations for companies with headquarters in Israel”. The Tel Aviv company, which does not want to be identified, told the Financial Times that it has attended Informa conferences in previous years.

After the delegate questioned the policy, a separate Informa representative accepted the tech firm’s registration the next day.

In a phone call to Informa made by another Israeli tech investor, the same salesperson repeated the statement and added that the policy applied to all events hosted by Informa, the investor told the FT.

The incident underlines an uneasy relationship between big corporations, their employees and their customers since the October 7 attacks by Hamas that killed 1,200 people and triggered Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that has killed more than 24,000, according to Palestinian officials.

Companies including McDonald’s and Starbucks have since suffered boycotts for their purported stances, while Citigroup is among companies that have had to fire employees for antisemitic messages on social media.

The Israeli tech company had been attempting to register a senior director at the annual Finovate conference, a global event for financial technology companies. The next one will be held in London at the end of February. The London-based Informa representative said a “message from compliance” had blocked the Israeli company’s registration, according to the emails.

Israel has not been sanctioned by the UK government.

“This should never happen to anyone. Not Israelis nor anyone else,” the chief business officer of the Israeli tech firm told the FT. 

Informa said in a statement: “A single individual in one of our sales teams made an error in incorrectly declining a company’s registration for a forthcoming event. The mistake was quickly spotted and rectified, and we have apologised to the company and individuals involved. This was an individual error and does not reflect – and has never reflected – any company policy.”

London-headquartered Informa declined to comment on how many applications may have been improperly denied, or whether the employee has faced any disciplinary action. Informa is aware of only one complete registration where such a policy was improperly cited, according to a person familiar with the situation.

A venture capitalist who invests in the Israeli tech sector told the FT that she had seen another email, from the same Informa representative, blocking yet another company’s attempted registration. “I would argue [there have been] four cases total,” she said, citing anecdotal evidence from her circle of Israeli venture capitalists.

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