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The Australian Jewish billionaire family Lowy, which is joint owner of the new investment company ION Asset Management, is confident it will be able to repeat the family's success story in Israel.
"We have a large shareholding in PM Capital, an Australian-based specialist equity fund manager, in which we initially invested $30 million," David Lowy, CEO of the global family investment company, Lowy Financial Group, told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview during a business trip to Israel. "Now after six years, PM Capital manages $3.5 billion. I see opportunity in Israel to replicate the success in Australia."
PM Capital, founded in 1998, is a Sydney-based specialist equity fund manager for private clients, financial advisers and institutional investors. It has an experienced and stable investment team with a successful long-term global investment track record. The fund manager's portfolios are selectively assembled on the merits of individual stock picking.
"We invest in well-established industrial public companies with a significant upside, companies which sell at less than they are worth, companies where there are going to be spin offs or separate entities. But we don't seek control," said Lowy - the son of Frank Lowy, the second richest man in Australia and a former fighter in Israel's Golani Brigade, who left Israel in 1952. "On average, we invest $50 million to $100m. into companies and hold them for two-to-three years."
Last month, Ex-UBS analysts Jonathan Half and Stephen Levey succeeded in attracting the billionaire family to invest $30m. into ION Asset Management's first fund for passive investment in Israeli and foreign companies.
"We had been evaluating a number of opportunities in Israel," Lowy said. "I met Steven through UBS when we showed interest in acquiring the controlling interest IDB Holding Corp."
The two former UBS senior analysts are the joint owners, holding 49%, of ION Asset Management founded last month, while the Lowy family owns the remaining 51%. The former make the investment decisions, while the latter retains control.
"We bring our knowledge in investment management, which will begin in Israel. We will follow this by opening additional branches abroad for investments in other markets," said Levey, who began his career as a fund manager at Barclay's Global Investors with the $150m. Israel Fund.
Levey added that no capital in addition to the $30m. had been raised yet but he saw more investment opportunities as markets were beaten down.
"We are generally risk-averse. We look for companies with high-quality management, an edge in the market and a long-term strategy," Levey said. "We will invest 80% into Israeli related companies and 20% into other companies."
David Lowy, is also non-executive deputy chairman of the Westfield Group, the world's largest shopping center company by equity market capitalization. The Lowy family is the largest shareholder in the Westfield Group.
"We see great opportunities for ION in Israel to provide international investors with the service of investing into Israeli companies," said Lowy.
"Israel has a broad economic future," he noted as he stressed the family's commitment to the country. "This is the way we have been raised. I love coming to Israel. Over the past five to six years, I have come to Israel four-to-six times a year visiting my pilot friends." Apart from his global business activities, David Lowy has been a regular airshow performer since 1992 and was the Australian Aerobatic Champion in 1998. He was selected as a member of the Australian Aerobatic Team to represent Australia at the 1996 and 1998 World Aerobatic Championships.
His father Frank has been no stranger to Israel, with numerous philanthropic engagements in the country. In May, the Australian shopping malls mogul announced his investment into the foundation of an Institute for National Strategy and Policy at Tel Aviv University.