Business Scene

It would be a safe bet to say that sooner or later the Shari Arison-Ron Rahav business relationship will be revived.

Shari Arison Raha 88 224 (photo credit: Sivan Farag )
Shari Arison Raha 88 224
(photo credit: Sivan Farag )
PEOPLE HAVE often wondered what makes Rani run. Don't be fooled by the teddy bear appearance or the occasionally gushing manner of speech employed more in a social framework than around the business table. Rani has a razor-sharp mind that absorbs and analyzes information with computer-like speed and intensity. The Rani in question is public relations guru and, more recently, honorary consul of the Marshall Islands, Ran Rahav, whose clients, through their various business enterprises, include some of the nation's top money makers, such as Lev Leviev, Nochi Dankner, Ofra Strauss, Gabi and Ettie Rotter and, of course, Shari Arison. It seems that Arison will not be on Rahav's client list for much longer. In an announcement to the media this week, Arison let it be known that she was relinquishing his services in favor of an in-house spokesperson to represent her and the Arison group. Did a black cat come between Arison and Rahav, whose friendship has been well-publicized in the media? According to Rahav, the friendship is and will be as warm as ever. It was simply that Arison wanted a spokesperson who would be available to her 24 hours around the clock, and with all his other commitments, Rahav, with all the goodwill in the world, could not undertake such a promise. The statement put out by the Arison group explained that both its business and philanthropic interests had expanded to the extent that it required an in-house spokesperson. Arison offered to keep Rahav on in addition to having an in-house spokesperson, said Rahav, but he refused because such arrangements often lead to friction, as he has discovered with some of his other clients who utilize both in-house and external public relations services, and he did not want anything to spoil his relationship with Arison. Their business relationship will be terminated at the end of August. The secret of Rahav's success is that most of his 120-plus clients are corporate clients, in the most literal sense of the term. In other words, there's not a "we and they" relationship; it's only we. By totally identifying with the client, Rahav pitches the client's point with far greater conviction. He identifies with the client beyond the actual business interests; most of his clients have become personal friends and colleagues. Not only does he socialize with them in a business-related capacity, but also hosts them at brunches, lunches and dinners in his gracious home in Savyon, where the walls are decorated with one of the most comprehensive private collections of Israeli art. More than that, he shares the cultural and philanthropic interests of his clients and sits on several boards and committees. A press conference called by Rahav for even the most mundane of reasons is always well-attended, because Rahav knows the art of ego-rubbing and treats each and every reporter as a potential winner of the Sokolov Prize, which is the highest accolade for journalism in Israel. More than that, Rahav, or members of his staff, go through a daily birthday search to send out greetings to public figures, people in the business world, the entertainment industry and the media. Anyone who has had dealings with him knows that if the rest of the world forgets their birthday, Rahav won't. He also keeps tabs on people's health issues; when someone in his orbit is ill, he will send a get-well letter plus a hamsa and a book of Tehillim (psalms). He also returns phone calls as promptly as his busy schedule will allow and, in general, employs a very human and humane approach, remaining in touch with people whose social status may have suffered as a result of retirement or loss of employment. Although the Hebrew press made a great fuss of the so-called split between Rahav and Arison, time may well prove that it was a storm in a teacup. The handsome retainer that he received may also be a minor glitch; the time that he spent on Arison's interests can now be diverted elsewhere, possibly to new clients eager to become part of his stable. While Rahav is not the only well-known personality in public relations, he is arguably the best known, because he has become no less a personality than the people he promotes. His photograph is frequently seen in gossip pages of magazines and newspapers, certainly far more often than those of his rivals, and he is interviewed on radio and television several times a year. In Israel, what goes around, often comes around. So it would be a fairly safe bet to say that sooner or later the Arison-Rahav business relationship will be revived. HE MAY not have a medical degree but Rabbi Avraham Elimlech Firer knows more about medicine than many specialists. He is the founder of Ezra Lemarpe (Assistance in Recovery), a voluntary organization that refers patients to the hospitals and doctors best suited to treat their particular illnesses. Without any formal schooling in medicine, Firer, a Belzer hassid, has succeeded in learning a great deal about human ailments and how they can be treated. He is in frequent contact with doctors, conducts video conferences with international experts to get second opinions, visits the sick, provides home care for children afflicted with cancer and runs a rehabilitation center. His services are available free of charge to anyone regardless of race or religion. Firer's key interest is in the preservation of human life. In recognition of his efforts toward this aim, he was awarded the Israel Prize, in addition to several other prizes and citations from prestigious organizations and institutions. Now, with the 30th anniversary of Ezra Lemarpe looming, the cream of Israel's business community, plus many public figures, have banded together to salute him at a gala fund raiser to be held on June 11 at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium in the presence of President Shimon Peres. Businessman Ami Sagi, who heads the steering committee for the gala, for which all proceeds will go toward a hydrotherapeutic pool to be constructed at Ezra Lemarpe, has contributed $1 million. Other supporters of the project include Morris Kahn, Benny Steinmetz, Gideon and Yair Hamburger, Galia Maor, Roni Milo, Reuven Adler, Shlomo Sherf and many others, including Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Hulda'i. Entertainment will be provided by Eli Yatzpan. Yair Lapid was scheduled to be the master of ceremonies, but following the passing of his father, it is not certain whether he will carry out the task. THE CREAM of Israel's business world has spent a lot of time lately going backwards and forwards between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Last Thursday, some 600 leading business people saluted Jerusalem on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, and before that a large showing of business people came from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for the opening of the Steimatzky flagship store in the Mamilla Mall. Tonight, Tuesday, the Israel Export Institute will celebrate its 50th anniversary and $71,4000,000,000 worth of exports at a festive event at Hangar 11, Tel Aviv Port, with the participation of Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai and Israel's leading exporters. In honor of the occasion Israel Philatelic Services will issue a new stamp. LAST WEEK, the Israel America Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner and awards ceremony at the residence of US Ambassador Richard Jones. The event also signified a changing of the guard, with Chemi Peres taking over from chamber president Zalman Shoval, with the title of chairman of the chamber, so as to avoid confusion with the other President Peres, who happens to be his father. Among those present were Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Steff Wertheimer, Uzia Galil, Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper, Israel Makov, Yuval Rabin, Gad Zeevi and some 400 others. Among the recipients of awards at the dinner were Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai; Ofra Feinmesser, country manager for Pfizer; Meir Nissenson, CEO I.B.M.; Elisha Yanai, president and CEO of Motorola; Zika Abzuk, corporate manager of Cisco Systems; and Prof. Mudi Sheves of the Israel Export Institute. Chemi Peres, 49, was unanimously elected to succeed Shoval at the chamber's annual general meeting in March. He is the founder and chairman of Pitango Venture Capital management, the largest venture capital fund in Israel, and is a former combat pilot. Shoval headed the chamber for almost five years. BGN TECHNOLOGIES Ltd., the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has signed an agreement with Zenith Solar, an Israeli start-up company, to license solar energy technology developed by a team headed by Prof. David Faiman, chairmen of the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics at the University's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and director of BGU's National Solar Energy Center, located on the Sde Boker campus. Zenith Solar intends to use Faiman's technology to build a commercial pilot plant with an array of nearly 100 solar dishes at Kevutzat Yavne, an agricultural village near Tel Aviv. The company hopes to have the plant producing electricity and thermal power by the end of this year.