Businessman Yuli Ofer passes away at the age of 87

Shipping magnate, founding member of Israel Corp. leaves behind wife, Ruth, daughter Leora, son Doron, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

September 12, 2011 06:26
2 minute read.
Sammy Ofer (right) with brother Yuli in 1999

ofer brothers_311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

Yehuda “Yuli” Ofer, one of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen and co-founder of one of the world’s largest private shipping companies, passed away late Sunday night at his home in Herzliya at the age of 87.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday expressed sorrow at his passing.

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“Ofer was among the senior members of the Israeli business community. He built with his late brother Sammy a global shipping business, whose roots were planted deep in Israel, but was even more a people person than a man of business. Wherever he sailed boats, generosity followed in their wake,” said the prime minister.

“Yuli Ofer was considered one of the best and most successful managers in Israel. For decades, he dedicated his energy and finances to widespread activities in Israel for the needy, and for Israeli society and its institutions,” the family said in a statement.

“Yuli was a people person. He loved them and invested in them, and they loved him and invested in him. Yuli was sensitive to every private and public stirring, and he was endowed with an infinite capacity to give to his family, his friends, and his surroundings. Yuli is survived by his wife, Ruth; his daughter, Liora; and his son, Doron, as well as grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. May his memory be a blessing.”

Born in Romania, Yuli Ofer moved with his family to British Mandate-era Palestine in 1924 when he was six months old. He later served as an infantry soldier in the War of Independence and rose to the rank of major.

Ofer began his business career by supplying equipment to shipping companies, before establishing his own company in the 1950s with his older brother Sammy, who passed away in June. The company went from strength to strength, and in the 1970s, the brothers expanded their business interests, mainly into the field of real estate.

Yuli oversaw all of the Ofer family’s business in Israel through the ensuing decades, including several public companies – among them Ofer Brothers, Cvalim and Melisron.

The family also owns Ofer Shipping, Ofer Real Estate, and Ofer Brothers Properties.

Recently, he was involved in a dispute with his son, Doron, because of the latter’s refusal to separate Ofer Holdings Group’s non-financial holdings, such as malls and hotels, from the financial holdings, such as Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, so that the Ofer family could provide minimal capital to maintain the stability of the bank. However, Doron refused, and the dispute continued, despite the Bank of Israel’s ultimatum, which gave both sides a month to reach an arrangement.

He was also at the center of a major controversy in June when the US slapped sanctions on Ofer Holdings Group, claiming the group indirectly sold an oil tanker to Iran via a Singaporean subsidiary.

Ofer will be laid to rest at Moshav Bnei Zion at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Jerusalem Post staff and Globes contributed to this report.

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