Business Scene

Some people still can't get used to the idea that Israelis can be major players among the most affluent of the affluent.

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March 14, 2006 07:52
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forbes mag 88. (photo credit: )

 
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ALTHOUGH ISRAEL'S fashion industry was in decline for several years, there are signs it's bouncing back with numerous fashion chains led by Castro, coming home with a good report card. Created more than half a century ago by Aaron Castro , and currently managed by his daughter Ettie and her husband Gabi Rotter, Castro keeps opening new stores in Israel and abroad and boosting sales. 2005 was a record year for Castro with sales totaling NIS 421 million resulting in a net profit of NIS 39m., representing a 22 percent increase. Cautious about taking unnecessary risks in 2005, Castro added only two stores to its local fleet, bringing the total number of Castro stores in Israel and abroad to 112. There are 25 Castro stores abroad, most of them franchised, with the exception of those in Germany. Gabi Rotter hopes to double the number of overseas outlets by the end of this year. Publication of the Forbes List of the world's billionaires always evokes excitement in Israel, because some people still can't get used to the idea that Israelis can be major players among the most affluent of the affluent. It comes as no surprise that Shari Arison, Israel's richest woman is still holding her own on the list - coming in 109th with an estimated fortune of $5.2 billion. Of the Israelis listed, she is the only one to have inherited her money. All the other Israeli billionaires are self-made. Arison comes in slightly ahead of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was ranked 112th, but trails behind her brother Mickey Arison, who is in 94th place with $6.1b. Other siblings whose names are more or less household words include Edgar Bronfman in 224th place with $3.6b. and his younger brother Charles in 258th place with $2.7b. Charles Bronfman shares a spot with Ronald Lauder whose fortune is also estimated at $2.7b., while Lauder's brother Leonard is in 240th place with $2.9b. In past Forbes lists, Israeli shipping and real estate tycoon Yuli Ofer was listed together with his brother Sammy Ofer, but this time, the listing is for Sammy Ofer and family, who share 224th spot with Edgar Bronfman. Lev Leviev with $2.6b. ranks 278th, while Stef Wertheimer with $2.4b. is in the 317th spot, and Morris Kahn with $1b. is in 746th place. On the list for the first time is Yitzhak Tshuva in 382nd place with $2b. Tshuva, who grew up dirt poor in a very large family, has been working since he was 12 years old but the really big money didn't come in until eight or nine years ago when he acquired the controlling interest in Delek. An energy and real estate mogul, with a generous philanthropic bent directed mainly at the Academic College of Netanya, Tshuva, attracted international headlines in 2004 when he purchased the historic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for $675 million, and decided amid angry protests by native New Yorkers to convert it into a prestige residential and commercial project. He eventually agreed to a compromise brokered by Bloomberg. Nostalgic items from the hotel will be auctioned tomorrow, Wednesday, by Christies. TSHUVA IS one of many Israelis with major real estate investments abroad. Others include Motti Zisser, Alfred Akirov and Eliezer Fishman, all of whom have invested in commercial properties. Through the Jerusalem Economic Corporation, in which he has the controlling interest, Fishman is currently negotiating for the purchase of a commercial center in Canada. Situated in Cambridge Ontario, the property is in excess of 20,000 meters. The deal is expected to close at around $18m. WITHIN THE framework of its transition from an Authority to a government company, the Israel Postal Company is bringing in new executive staff. Recent appointments include Rali Meridor as deputy director of data systems, Michal Bondi-Sasson as deputy director of human resources and Eldad Cohen as deputy director of marketing and business development. IPC chairman Yaacov Edri said the change of status of the IPC along with the opening of the postal market to competition, obligated it to reorganize and bring in top-line executives. Meridor has held senior positions with Ness Technologies, Migdal and Maestro Computers. She is a Technion graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer sciences. Bondi-Sasson was previously with Champion Motors, Tnuva Dairies, Strauss Ice Cream, ECI and Cellcom. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Tel Aviv University and a master's degree in psychology from Bar Ilan University. Cohen previously handled marketing operations at Bezeq. Before that he was at Comverse, Cellcom and the First International Bank. He has an MBA and a degree in behavioral sciences from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. BELGIAN BORN Garry Greenspan, 33, formerly marketing manager of Elite Foods has been promoted and is now the company's general manager. Greenspan has been with Elite Foods for four years, and previously worked for a Comverse subsidiary, prior to which he was employed at Strauss Ice Cream and at Unilever. He holds a master's degree in industrial engineering and management from Solvay University in Brussels. EFFECTIVE FROM April 1, journalist David Ratner, 42, who for seven years served as the Ha'aretz correspondent for Haifa and the North will take on the responsibilities of external relations coordinator at the Rambam Medical Center. In line with his new position, Ratner has tendered his resignation as chairman of the Haifa and the North Journalists Association. In the final phases of his journalistic career, he was recognized by the Pratt Foundation for his coverage of environmental issues. Ratner has a BA in East Asian Studies from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and a Masters Degree in Communications from the Israel College. AFTER WORKING as a public relations assistant for in the Israel office of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America and subsequently at Shenkar College, Michal Erlich has decided to branch out on her own and will open a public relations office that will focus primarily on art, design, fashion and higher education. LEUMI CARD has announced the appointment of Hanoch Wolf to deputy manager for credit and business. Wolf was previously head of the Leumi commercial division. Wolf, 56, has a bachelor's degree in economics and business administration from Bar Ilan University, and has held a number of important positions in the business and credit divisions. In his new capacity, Wolf will also join Leumi Card's executive board. IN RESPONSE to a request by Zalman Shoval, who holds the controlling interest in the Bank of Jerusalem, the bank's board of directors has approved the appointment of Yonatan Irons in place of former chairman David Blumberg who stepped down in January of this year after 10 years at the helm. The appointment has been ratified by the Supervisor of Banks at the Bank of Israel and will be given the final green light at a general meeting of the shareholders of the Bank of Jerusalem. PELEPHONE HAS announced the appointment of Guy Bauman, 36, as deputy manager for business development, in which capacity he will become a member of the company's executive. Bauman has broad-ranging experience in business development and strategies. He is a former vice president of ECI. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg Recanati School of Business Management at Tel Aviv University. AMPA CAPITAL Car Lease, a member of the Ampa Investment Group, has appointed Nir Horovitz, 34, as its general manager ACCL deals with the leasing and operation of cars for business and private purposes. Horovitz has a strong background in motor vehicles in general and leasing operation in particular. THE NEW deputy general manager for marketing and commerce at Gad Dairies is Shlomi Eilon who will be responsible for developing new marketing initiatives and strategies for the company's range of products that includes more than 70 different types of cheeses as well as other dairy items. Eilon has held several managerial positions, most recently as head of the marketing division for Yediot Aharonot's magazine group. ISRAEL DISCOUNT Bank has announced the appointment of Tzvika Schwartz as deputy manager of Discount Trust Company, a fully owned IDB subsidiary that provides a variety of services for clients in Israel and abroad. Schwartz was previously an economist with DTC. He is a graduate of the University of Manchester and holds a bachelor's degree in economics and management and a master's degree in business management.

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