Business Scene

American billionaires are falling over themselves to give huge sums of money to Israeli institutions in what could possibly be described as an Annie Get Your Gun syndrome.

jacobs couple 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy photo)
jacobs couple 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy photo)
American billionaires are falling over themselves to give huge sums of money to Israeli institutions in what could possibly be described as an Annie Get Your Gun syndrome. Anything you can do, I can do better. Following on the announcement that casinos tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam had given $25 million to Yad Vashem, came the notification from the Haifa Technion that Irwin and Joan Jacobs of San Diego have donated $30 million for the renaming and expansion of the Technion's Graduate School. Like Adelson, Jacobs, the co-founder and chairman of wireless technology giant Qualcomm started out in Massachusetts, where his father was an insurance salesman. Just as Adelson has a long association with Yad Vashem, so Jacobs, a former computer science professor, has a long association with the Technion. In fact, QUALCOMM set up operations near the Technion in 1993 and employs many Technion graduates. The Jacobs gift was featured in the weekly 'Gift of the Week' series in the Wall Street Journal. The Technion gift is not the largest they've made. Several of the gifts they've donated elsewhere have been in excess of $100 million. They gave $120 million to the San Diego Symphony. The gift to the Technion, which not the first that the prestigious institution has received from Jacobs, was made via the American Friends of the Technion. "We are proud to have our chief legacy in Israel at the Technion," said Jacobs. "We previously had established the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Center for Communication and Information Technologies and have been greatly pleased with the research and teaching accomplished there Technion graduate students are quite literally the next generation of leaders in science and technology-based industries upon which the country's economic viability is built. So the need top support and expand the graduate program is clear." BACK TO Sheldon Adelson who reportedly was negotiating for the purchase of Maariv, sending share prices in the paper's parent company soaring when it became public knowledge that he was in tete-a-tete mode with the Nimrodi family. But the deal didn't work out and Adelson, whose mind is much more geared to building luxury hotels in America and elsewhere, is content to leave his Israeli media interests as they are. He is a partner in Israeli, the Hebrew language daily that is distributed free of charge at railway stations and central bus terminals. The other partner is Hirsch Media owned by Shlomo Ben Zvi who also owns Makor Rishon. THE BOARD of Directors of Israel Aircraft Industries has approved a series of new appointments. Jacob Vistanetzky has been appointed chief accountant of the Bedek Aviation Group, after having previously served as chief accountant of IAI's Commercial Aircraft Group. Vistanetzky, who has been with IAI since 1982, came in as an economist in the manufacturing division of the Commercial Aircraft Group. He subsequently was appointed accountant of what was then the business jets division. An experienced negotiator with suppliers, customers and financial institutions, Vistanetzky holds a masters degree in Economics. Bedek Aviation Group's estimated sales for 2006 are in the range of $530 million compared to $485 million in 2005. Succeeding Vistanetzky as CAG chief accountant is Eyal Nahum, the former director of finance and R&D at the Military Aircraft Group's Lahav division and accountant of the MagNet division. Nahum has been with IAI since 1987, serving as the head of several projects at the Lahav division and also as the director of an external company. He has considerable experience in dealing with financial management, managing cash flow and customer contracting. A graduate of Tel Aviv University, Nahum has a BA in Economics and Management. The Commercial Aircraft Group's estimated sales for 2006 are around $600 million compared to $480 million in 2005. IAI's third new appointment is that of Doron Zakai who has been named chief Accountant of IAI's Systems, Missiles & Space Group. Nahum was previously Accountant of Bedek Aviation Group's Engines division. He has been with IAI since 1985, starting as an economist at the MLM Division. He was later head of the Budgeting, Costing and Control Department and is experienced in managing financial projects, cash flow and customer contracts. Zakai has an MBA and BA (cum laude) in Economics and Business Administration from Bar Ilan University. Like the other groups, the Systems, Missiles and Space Group anticipates doing much better this year than in 2005. Estimated sales for 2006 are $590 million compared to $470 million. SHENKAR COLLEGE of Engineering and Design has announced the appointment of Prof. Shmuel Koenig as head of its Chemical Engineering Division. Koenig completed his B.Sc in chemical engineering at the Haifa Technion, with outstanding results and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at McGill University in Canada. Since then, he has worked on important R&D projects in the US. FINANCE MINISTER Avraham Hirchson has instructed the Government Companies Authority to take the unprecedented step of publishing the names of all candidates for boards of directors of government companies and public conglomerates on its Web site. Hirchson believes this will lead to an improvement in the caliber of appointees as well as to more effective and efficient management. ABOODI CREATIVE, a school for publicists located at ZOA House in Tel Aviv, has appointed celebrity stylist and fashion reviewer Dorin Atias as its chief executive stylist. Atias, who appears regularly on 'Good Evening with Guy Pines' and who has designed and/or styled the costumes for numerous television and movie productions has been employed as a lecturer at Aboodi Creative for the past three-and-a-years, but felt a burning need to train the next generation of stylists. Aboodi Creative focuses primarily on three tracks: styling, art direction and copy writing, but also teaches specialized courses within these frameworks. One of these courses is fashion, in which according to Aboodi Creative general manager Naor Herman, styling takes up 40% of the course. WITHIN THE diversified interests of the Fishman Group controlled by business tycoon Eliezer Fishman are real estate, retail, telecommunications, industry, venture capital and media outlets. This month, the Fishman Group is also saying it with flowers as it celebrates the sixth anniversary of Zer4U, one of its more colorful and sweet smelling enterprises and Israel's largest chain of flower and gift shops, which continues to expand on the home front and is negotiating to open overseas outlets. Zer4U, which has 30 franchise stores, and controls 15% of Israel's flower market, does not limit itself to selling flowers and gift items, especially during Jewish holiday periods when floral arrangements include bottles of wine, pots of honey, apples, candles, candle holders, et al. The company also runs a school that teaches flower arrangement and event design. Sales this year are expected to reach NIS 58 million. To celebrate its sixth anniversary, Zer4U will hold a lottery based on telephone and Internet orders where 600 of its customers who have ordered flowers for NIS 49 and more will receive a complete refund. GAZIT GLOBE Europe President Amir Gal has announced the country's entry into the city of Frankfurt, Germany with the purchase of a large plot of land on which it will build a shopping mall at an investment of €41 million. THE CHAIRMANSHIP of the General Council of the Israel Standards Institute, which was vacated by Avigdor Yitzhaki when he became a Member of Knesset, is no longer vacant. The new chairman is Amikam Ben Zvi who manages various retail enterprises. Ben Zvi was previously CEO at Hamashbir, Amidar, Nechushtan and other leading companies. Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai welcomed the new development and and said that the ISI is one of the most important factors in the stability of the Israel Economy, and has done great things in recent years towards preparing the Israeli market for competition in an era of globalization.