Israel’s first merchant bank, Asquith, has closed its first fund and intends to
substantially increase the size of its next one.
“We want to be able to
write quarter- million-dollar checks, not just hundred-thousand-dollar ones,”
Asquith executive director Michael Freedman told The Jerusalem Post in an
interview last week.
The investment company prides itself on taking a
long view of investment, looking to help undervalued companies scale up for the
Merchant banks deal mostly in international finance, long-term
loans for companies and underwriting, but do not provide regular banking
services for the general public.
“We’re not a fund that’s motivated by
having an exit in three years.
We’re value investors,” Freedman said. The
management and investors often add their own value to the companies they invest
in, whether through business know-how or good old-fashioned connections, he
One example is Phoebus, the energy company that received Asquith’s
first investment. Asquith is domiciled in Jersey, an island off the coast of
France. In a recent trip there, the company ended up pitching Phoebus’s product
– a smart system that saves energy on water heating and cooling – to Jersey’s
electricity board. It convinced the board to buy 15 installations in a
multimillion- dollar deal, which is expected to be announced this
Keeping the long-run value of its companies in sight helps it carve
out a unique space in Israel, where a push to quick exits often drive the game,
“There is so little capital in this space because the VC
[venture-capital] community in Israel is not patient,” he said.
has also invested in Aquaera, which created a fish-farming technology, and
Support Machines, a customer-service technology provider.
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