Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, has once again seen a profitable future in Israel through his crystal ball.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced that it purchased the last 20 percent of the Iscar Metalworking Company on Wednesday, seven years after making its first ever international investment when it snatched up the first 80 percent of the Israeli company.
The hefty price tag indicates that IMC, the entirety of which was valued at $5 billion during the first transaction, has doubled in value since.
“As you can surmise from the price we’re paying for the remaining interest, IMC has enjoyed very significant growth over the last seven years, and we are delighted to acquire the portion of the company that was retained by the Wertheimer family when IMC first became a member of the Berkshire group of companies,” Buffett said.
IMC chairman Eitan Wertheimer praised the sale.
“We are very pleased that IMC has found a permanent home in Berkshire Hathaway, which fully appreciates the unique nature of the global Israeli enterprise that we have created, and that is committed to remaining true to that heritage in every way, building on and continuing our historic success and special culture,” he said.
Though Iscar, located in Tefen in Israel’s North, is the largest company in the IMC group, it also has facilities in the United States, Korea, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy and Japan.
“We are confident that being part of the Berkshire family will continue to help us strengthen our position worldwide and maintain the phenomenal growth that we have experienced over the past 60 years,” added IMC President and CEO Jacob Harpaz.
The transaction is expected to bring in considerable tax revenue, which will be welcome news to Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is struggling to bring down the deficit for the 2013-2014 state budget.
“It’s an Israeli resident and a considerable transaction, so there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be considerable taxes collected,” a spokesman for the Tax Authority said, but pointed out that the lack of specific details of the deal precluded precise estimations of how much tax revenue.
According to Globes, the $4b. transaction in 2006 yielded a $1b. tax windfall for the state, and media speculated that the latest transaction could bring in between NIS 1b. and NIS 1.8b.
The influx of dollars may present a challenge to the Bank of Israel, however. In recent weeks, it has struggled to keep the shekel from getting too strong on the world market, buying up dollars in the foreign exchange market as the exchange rate fell stubbornly below NIS 3.6 to the dollar.
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