Beating out a former Israel Air Force commander and other defense executives, Yitzhak Nissan has been chosen as the next CEO and president of Israel Aircraft Industries, replacing long-time CEO Moshe Keret who continues to be investigated for alleged illegal business practices.
The IAI board of directors unanimously chose Nissan in a late Thursday night meeting. Nissan takes over on Sunday from Ovadia Harari, who was for the last six weeks acting chief executive of the state-owned aerospace giant.
Nissan, 56, will be acting chief until the government's Spenitz committee and the ministries of Defense and Finance give their stamp of approval.
Nissan, a vice president at IAI, has been the director of the company's space and missile divisions. He was responsible for the MBT, MLM and TAMAM groups which produce missiles, like the Arrow and Barak, attack UAVs as well as satellites and their launchers like the Ofek and Amos. Their sales in 2005 are expected to be about $600 million.
Nissan joined the ranks of IAI as a systems engineer in 1978 and worked many years in the production of precision-guided munitions like the Gabriel and later the Barak missiles.
"Mr. Nissan has a wealth of experience in marketing in the defense field and civilian space field. In his positions he led new concepts that brought about development of systems in a great scale. In all of his jobs he showed an ability to lead changes and bring about a production improvements in the organizations he led," an IAI statement said.
The IAI board of directors include Ya'ir Shamir, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Biran, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Nativ and Aliza Greenboim-Asulin. Among the candidates for the post were former IAF commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Herzl Bodinger as well as Harari.
Keret, who has been barred from approaching his office or co-workers since November, will be ending his post in February. He has been the CEO of IAI since June 1985.
A police investigation by the International Serious Crimes Unit was launched following a report by the State Comptroller which uncovered alleged financial irregularities in IAI deals with two businessmen who represented the company in Europe. According to police, Keret is suspected of receiving bribes and kickbacks in exchange for preferential treatment and higher-than-average commissions on deals with European countries.