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(photo credit: Courtesy)
ISRAEL'S BUSINESS community rejoiced this week with the announcement that Dov Lautman, 71, the immensely popular founder, chairman and CEO of Delta Galil Industries, one of the most successful of Israel's textile enterprises will received an Israel Prize life achievement award on Israel Independence Day. Born in Tel Aviv, Lautman went to the US to study, and in 1961 received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. He launched his career in textiles with Sabrina Textiles Ltd., where he served as the general manager from 1963 to 1967. He was subsequently appointed to a similar position with Gibor Textiles Industries, and left Gibor to found Delta in 1975. In 1988, the company went into partnership with the Sara Lee Corporation. Today, Delta Galil has manufacturing facilities in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and South America, as well as in Israel, and employs some 10,000 people including 200 in the UK.
In tandem with running his textile empire, Lautman has devoted himself to many facets of public life in Israel. He served as president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel from 1986-1993, as chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations and also was Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's Special Emissary for Economic Development from 1993 to 1995. He is a member of the executive boards of the Peres Peace Center, Dor Shalom, the Abraham Fund, the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies and several other organizations. He also sits on the boards of governors of Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. In November last year, Lautman was awarded an honorary OBE by British Ambassador Tom Phillips in recognition of his contribution to Anglo-Israel economic relations. Despite a debilitating muscular illness that limits his mobility, Lautman continues to work on many fronts. One of his major concerns is to close Israel's ever growing gap between the very rich and the very poor.
AFTER ALL the hype connected with negotiations between Arkadi Gaydamak and Avraham Kuznitzky for the NIS 500 million sale of part of Kuznitzky's 55.6 percent stake in Minrav, the deal has fallen through due to difficulties that could not be overcome within the time frame that the two sides set for themselves. However, this does not mean that the two will not cooperate in other business ventures.
EMBLEM T-SHIRTS and caps are par for the course for any company or organization that wants maximum exposure at minimal cost. However, when Richard Salt, director for UK Trade and Investment at the British Embassy, attended a sports happening at Hayarkon Park on Friday prior to the soccer match between Israel and England, he chose to distribute table tennis bats promoting the British Embassy in Tel Aviv and UK Trade and Investments. Presumably some of the thousands of Brits who came to Israel to see the match will display these souvenirs in their living rooms.
GLOBAL VENTURE capital firm Canaan Partners has announced that Dan Ciporin, the former chairman and CEO of Shopping.com, has joined the firm as a venture partner in its Westport, Connecticut, office. Ciporin will work with Canaan's global teams to identify technology trends and pursue investment opportunities, particularly in the Internet and digital media sectors. Over the last decade, Ciporin has been focused on the development and implementation of technology for the Internet and new media. As chairman and CEO of Shopping.com, he transformed the company into the global leader in on-line comparison shopping, enabling it to become the third largest e-commerce site on the Internet according to Comscore/Media Metrix. Under Ciporin's six years of leadership, Shopping.com went from start-up to a public company with more than $100m. in sales, eventually being acquired by eBay in 2005 for approximately $620m. Prior to Shopping.com, Ciporin was head of MasterCard's global debt services business, where his extensive product insight, management and marketing skills were instrumental in establishing the company's leadership in the global electronic debit market. Most recently, he was chairman of the Internet Lab, a US-Israeli incubator for early-stage Internet consumer startups co-founded by Gemini Israel Funds and Lightspeed Venture Partners. He also serves on the board of directors for VistaPrint and Primedia, as well as several privately-held companies in the digital media space. In Canaan's East coast office, Ciporin will focus on investing in digital media and communications companies in the New York-to-Washington corridor, which is the "old" media capital of the country, as well as in Israel, where Shopping.com had its origins. Canaan Partners is a leading global venture capital firm specializing in early-stage information technology and life sciences investments. Founded in 1987, it has $2.4 billion capital under management and has invested in more than 240 companies, completed 63 mergers and acquisitions, and brought over 50 companies public.
FIRST SIGHT impressions are often those that remain permanently. Aware of this, Abie Neeman, the owner of Neeman Towers, a luxury residential complex, decided to turn the lobby into an art gallery and, together with Noam Haldi, a Bank Leumi branch manager organized an exhibition of landscapes of Israel plus some portraits and still life paintings. Invitees who came to see and buy the works of Uri Yaffe and Avraham Katz-Oz included Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who was delighted by Yaffe's portrait of Peres and his mentor David Ben-Gurion, Nava and Roni Dissentshik, Ran Park, former finance minister Avraham Shochat and, of course, the 200 residents of Neeman Towers, who include former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai who is doing very well in real estate these days. Yaffe decided to donate all the proceedings from sales of his works to Beit Levinstein, the orthopedic rehabilitation center.
BANK LEUMI CEO Galia Maor and chairman of the bank Eitan Raff, participated in the bank's traditional packaging and distribution of food parcels to the poor for Pessah. Bank Leumi invested in the range of NIS 1m. in a food collection campaign in its branches around the country, with bank employees collecting and contributing kosher for Pessah food items for needy families. This is the third consecutive year in which Bank Leumi has engaged in Operation Food Parcels. Some of the less needy clients of the bank were surprised last week to receive a phone call from Maor, Leumi Executive Vice President Yona Fogel and one of 165 branch managers who called to wish them a happy holiday. Altogether, the bank made calls to 11,100 of its customers and this week will send Haggadot to an almost equal number of customers.
IF YOU'RE in politics it's a full-time, around-the-clock job. Thus, while many people take time out on Fridays, Likud chairman and Knesset Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu was busy last Friday with members of the Israel-Canada Chamber of Commerce whom he addressed at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. Also on hand was Canadian Ambassador Jon Allen. Netanyahu said that he come to address the business community and not the media. A former finance minister who continues to keep his finger on the pulse of Israel's economy, Netanyahu made his audience very happy when he predicted an 8% growth rate for 2007.
DEXIA BANK CEO Axel Miller, whose visit to Israel was for the purpose of changing the name of Bank Otzar Hashilton Hamekomi to Dexia Public Financing, almost didn't make it. He was due to arrive last Wednesday on a flight from Paris, but because of the Histadrut strike, the flight was cancelled. Certain that the strike would not last, Miller and his entourage flew to Brussels from where they took a night flight to Israel after the strike was cancelled. At a cocktail reception held in his honor on Thursday, Miller announced that Dexi a would expand its operations in Israel. The Franco-Belgian bank, through its local subsidiary, plans to provide financing to public and private sectors. Such financing will include infrastructure projects, transport, desalination and energy. Dexia will provide some of the financing for Vice Premier Shimon Peres' Peace Valley project. Miller met with Peres to discuss the whole concept and also met with Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and with Internal Affairs Minister Roni Bar-On, as well as with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and bankers and members of the business community. Dexia Public Financing is on the verge of introducing foreign currency services.
IT WAS a two-generational affair, when Gal Wiener, rooms division manager at the Sheraton Hotel, Tel Aviv, came to witness the installation of his father Rafi Wiener, CEO of the Tamares Hotel Group, as chairman of the Israel Hotel Managers Association. One of the last but pleasant duties of outgoing Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog before taking on the Social Welfare and Diaspora Affairs portfolios was to congratulate Wiener and to note that he is one of the legendary figures of Israel's hotel industry. Herzog also congratulated hotel managers from the north of the country for the speed and efficiency with which they have returned to business as usual following the war.