Thirteen Israelis appeared on Forbes magazine’s annual list of global
billionaires on Thursday, led by brothers Idan and Eyal Ofer – who ranked 161st
and 173rd, with respective fortunes of $6.2 billion and $5.8b.
brothers split the inheritance equally after their father, shipping magnate
Sammy Ofer, died in June 2011. But Forbes ranked Idan higher than his older
brother, as it was able to confirm Idan’s public stakes in Israel Corp. and
Pacific Drilling; but applied more conservative valuations to Eyal’s less
transparent private holdings.
A record 1,226 individuals, with a combined
net worth of $4.6 trillion, made this year’s list.
Mexican telecom mogul
Carlos Slim Helu ranked first with $69b., ahead of Microsoft co-founder Bill
Gates ($61b.) and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett ($44b.) – whose
portfolio includes Israeli metal-working tool company Iscar.
Steinmetz was the second wealthiest Israeli, ranking 169th with a fortune of
$5.9b. Steinmetz transferred $100 million to his real estate company Scorpio
last year, in exchange for rescheduling debt payments until 2018. He also sold
51 percent of his iron-ore company in Guinea to Brazil’s Vale for $2.5
The other Israelis were: Iscar founder Stef Wertheimer (255th,
$4.2b.); Bank Hapoalim owner Shari Arison (288th, $3.9b.); Hollywood producer
Arnon Milchan (290th, $3.8b.); Kazakhstan-based mining mogul Alexander
Machkevich (418th, $2.7b.); software entrepreneur Gil Shwed and Delek Group’s
Yitzhak Tshuva (both 683rd, $1.9b.); Africa-Israel Chairman Lev Leviev (764th,
$1.7b.); Shwed’s former partner Marius Nacht and Playtech founder Teddy Sagi
(both 1,015th, $1.2b.); and Amdocs original investor Morris Kahn (1,153rd,
Shari Arison was the only Israeli woman to appear on the list,
although she fell 88 spots from last year after Forbes devalued her fortune by
$1.2b. Last year she purchased her brother Micky’s shares in Arison Holdings,
the investment company their father Ted left to them. Arison also owns a large
share in Carnival Cruises – owner of Costa Concordia, the ship that ran aground
off the cost of Italy in January.
Four Israelis dropped off the annual
list this year, including: Michael Federmann; Michael Strauss; Shlomo Eliahu;
and Nochi Dankner. Eliahu, Bank Leumi’s largest shareholder, announced Wednesday
that he had struck a deal with Italian company Generali to purchase control of
Israeli insurance firm Migdal Insurance for $1.1b.
One of the most
notable names on the 2012 list, from an Israeli perspective, was Sheldon
Adelson, who ranked 14th with a net worth of $24.9b. The 78-year-old American
casino mogul owns the free Israeli daily Israel Hayom, and actively donates to
numerous Jewish causes.
In December he donated $5m. to Taglit-Birthright
– doubling his annual contribution to the organization and allowing 2,000 more
Jews to tour Israel this winter on its programs.
The Middle East is now
home to 43 billionaires. In addition to the 13 Israeli citizens, there were
eight billionaires from Saudi Arabia; seven from Egypt; six from Lebanon; five
from Kuwait; and four from the United Arab Emirates.
Alwaleed bin Talal, who invested $300m. in Twitter in December via the secondary
market, ranked 29th with a net worth of $18b. Former Lebanese prime minister
Saad Hariri ranked 764th with $1.7b.