Business Scene

Nine of America's leading women in the construction and real-estate industries are currently in Israel.

WHILE HOLOCAUST survivors continue to receive a mere pittance on which to survive, and many still have to choose between food and medications because their incomes don't stretch far enough to pay for both (let alone dentures, hearing aids and eyeglasses), senior public figures will enjoy increases of NIS 1,100 to NIS 2,053 per month on salaries that are already inflated way beyond the basic wage. According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, the highest-paid public servant is the president of the state, who currently receives NIS 47,136 per month and starting in January will receive NIS 49,021. The next highest salary is paid to the president of the Supreme Court, who now earns NIS 45,496 but will soon be paid NIS 47,316. The deputy president of the Supreme Court is next with NIS 44,265, which goes up to NIS 46,036 in January. The prime minister, considering the responsibilities, should be ranked second, but with a salary of NIS 41,055 is No. 4, with a raise to NIS 43,108 in January. The opposition leader, even though he happens to be a former prime minister, earns NIS 37,713, which increases to NIS 39,599. An MK, regardless of the frequency or infrequency of attendance, gets NIS 34,020 and will soon receive NIS 35,381. No wonder so many former MKs want to get back into politics; it's a very well-paid job with lots of perks and a guaranteed pension that's well above the basic wage, even when the MK serves only one term. Those who become cabinet ministers will be earning NIS 38,766. In other words, an MK earns more in a month than is paid out to a Holocaust survivor in a year. Apparently we are a nation without shame. THE LONDON Stock exchange is actively courting Israeli investments. This Thursday, some of its representatives will participate in a by-invitation-only seminar at the residence of British Ambassador Tom Phillips. According to the blurb on the invitation, the London Stock Exchange has become the global market of choice, offering access to an unrivalled pool of international investment. Both AIM and the Main Market provide access to international capital and profile for some of the world's most prominent and successful businesses. Joining speakers from the London Stock Exchange will be representatives of Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Ernst and Young, and Berwin Leighton Paisner. ANOTHER FORWARD step in Israel-China relations has been taken with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Shanghai Stock Exchange President Zhang Yujun and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Ester Levanon. A key aspect of the memorandum will be an exchange of delegations, to enable Israeli and Chinese business people to broaden their knowledge of each other's markets and stock exchanges. The Shanghai Stock Exchange's reputation is known worldwide, said Levanon, adding that the TASE is committed to working closely with Shanghai to create opportunities in both markets. NINE OF America's leading women in the construction and real-estate industries are currently in Israel on a trip sponsored by the Washington-based Project Interchange, a non-political and nonprofit organization. It is an institute of the American Jewish Committee, which brings American and international policy makers and opinion leaders to Israel to learn first-hand about Israeli society, the quest for Middle East peace and the US-Israel relationship. The nine are CEOs and senior officers of several major construction companies and real-estate developers. "These women are real 'movers and shakers,'" says Robert S. Peckar, a prominent construction lawyer and partner at Peckar & Abramson, the largest construction law firm in the US. As vice chair of project interchange, Peckar brought a similar group of construction executives to Israel three years ago, but they were all men. "After the trip, a couple of my high-powered female clients asked me why we couldn't do the same for women, and of course they were right," he says. The women will participate in meetings related to their industry as well as social causes that impact on women in the Middle East. The previous seminar run by Project Interchange three years ago led to a joint business venture between Israeli academia, the Beersheba Municipality and KUD international, an major real-estate developer, in Los Angeles. Contracts were signed last week to construct a new $250 million technology park, the Advanced Technologies Park at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Additional lucrative business opportunities may be in the offing. The participants are: Patricia Lancaster, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings; Emily Ann Youssouf, former president of the New York City Housing Development Corp; Jane Chmielinski, group CEO of corporate development, AECOM; MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president, Forest City Ratner Companies; Deborah Wathen Finn, senior vice president/director of transit and rail, CH2M Hill; Susan L. Hayes, president and CEO, Cauldwell Wingate; Barbara C. Wagner, senior vice president, Clark Construction; Nicola M. Heryet, senior managing director, Colliers ABR, Inc.; Karen Sweeney, vice president and general manager, Turner Construction Company.