The Israeli arm of global pharmaceuticals company Bayer Health Care has a new
CEO, the company has announced.
Tomer Fefer officially took over the
position on May 1 and was welcomed into the position at an event recognizing the
service of outgoing CEO Dorit Puterman.
Fefer, 40, was previously
commercial manager at Israeli biotechnology firm Genzyme.
Before that he
was CEO of Pharma Israel, an umbrella body for multinational companies in the
field of medical products.
While many Israelis will be watching the
shekel’s rise against the dollar with delight as they eye their next trip
abroad, the US currency’s nosedive is causing exporters and manufacturers to
become increasingly concerned and frustrated.
Their anger was
particularly obvious at a press conference hosted by the Manufacturers
Association of Israel on Wednesday in Tel Aviv.
With a seat reserved for
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz conspicuously empty, the association’s
president, Shraga Brosh, used the opportunity to accuse the government of not
caring about the plight of its exporters.
He said Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu so far had ignored a request made in January to hold a roundtable
discussion on the exchange rate.
“If this doesn’t interest the finance
minister, and if the prime minister doesn’t think this is important enough, then
we have a problem,” Brosh said. “Instead of making it easier for exports
following the deterioration of the dollar, they increased the expenses. In the
budget they imposed on us new taxes to the value of NIS 6 billion, including the
fuel excise, municipal rates, water and others.
“We expect them to stop
ignoring us in Jerusalem, for the Israeli government to shoulder the burden of
export growth – because [exporters] are the main engine that move the wheels of
the Israeli economy.”
Israel Export Institute chairman Ami Arel, who sat
alongside Brosh, echoed his remarks, saying the government needed to raise
taxation of foreign currency, to harm speculators rather than
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, the only
member of the government to appear at the press conference, said he had come to
listen but “not to be a punching bag.”
“I came to show solidarity and to
say that we are situated in a period of crisis,” Simhon said. “This crisis is
known; the question is what do we do about it, given that we are talking about
an ongoing crisis. The expectation is that there will be a sharing of
responsibilities between the government and the exporters. I feel that this is a
“There is no doubt that exportation is the engine of the
Israeli economy,” Simhon said, adding that he would approach Netanyahu about
meeting with manufacturers, and that he was also ready to create a program under
his ministry’s auspices that would ease short-term pain for
The dollar-shekel representative exchange rate fell to NIS
3.392 per dollar on Wednesday, for a fall of about 12 percent since last
According to data given to the press by the manufacturers
association, the dollar’s 26% devaluation against the shekel since 2006 has been
more severe than its fall against other currencies.
Only the dollar’s 31%
drop against the yen has been sharper, while in the same period it has fallen
20% against the euro, 20% against the Chinese yuan, 19% against the Canadian
dollar and risen 3% against the British pound, the data showed.
USG Capital senior analyst Eli Ben-David told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that
the government’s critics fail to understand that the fiscal measures they are
suggesting to tackle the shekel’s rise would have little effect in the face of a
continuing global trend, which sees the dollar falling against all its major
“If the government take steps that are too strong, it will
harm the attractiveness of Israel for the continuation of economic growth,” he
said, “because what will happen is that foreign investors will flee the
Ben-David suggested that exporters follow the advice of the
government and look to other markets in Asia and Europe to sell their wares,
rather than relying too heavily on the United States.
“If they expose
themselves to markets such as Canada or Europe, then the gaps in the exchange
rate won’t harm them as dramatically as is the case with the dollar,” he said,
“because today, most of the limitations on exporters come from the
Ben-David also predicted that the Bank of Israel would raise the
interest rate by a quarter-point to 3.25% in June as it fights forecasts of high
inflation. He said he expects the benchmark rate to rise to 4% by the end of the
Ben-David said the increasing interest- rate differential between
Israel and the US, which is not expected to raise rates until 2012, will see
“the exchange rate fall to 3.30-3.35 during the coming months, even though we
expect that in the next few weeks there will be a slight