Business Scene

On the day after he took journalists on a tour of the square tower of the Azrieli Center, architect and real estate developer David Azrieli celebrated the inauguration of the square tower, which completes his triple-tower complex with a huge party in which he also marked his 85th birthday.

azrieli biz image 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy  Photo)
azrieli biz image 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
WHAT WILL billionaire businessman and philanthropist Arkadi Gaydamak buy next? It is obvious that he is on a buying spree. Yediot Aharonot has suggested that the next item on his list is the New Pharm drugstore chain though this has been denied by Isal Amlat Investment, which bought New Pharm two years ago. Gaydamak, who supports several soup kitchens, was also reported by Maariv to be looking into other food ventures at least one of which he may use as a base for supplying food for the poor. His decision to turn Tiv Taam from a non-kosher to a kosher chain has been greeted with mixed reactions. Non-kosher butcher shops and deli stores, which thrive mainly on Russian immigrant customers, were happy that some of the competition is disappearing. Some of the regular customers told a Y-Net interviewer that if Tiv Taam does away with its non-kosher products they won't buy there any more. People who shop at Tiv Taam but don't buy any of the forbidden foods, were pleased that the latter are disappearing, and people who would never set foot in Tiv Taam before said that once it becomes kosher they will buy there. Gaydamak negotiated the Tiv Taam deal at the end of last week. Only a few days earlier, at the end of May, Tiv Taam denied rumors that it was negotiating for a friendly takeover. There had been a report in Maariv to the effect that Dudi Wiessman, owner of the Dor-Alon Group, Blue Square Israel as well the AM PM chain of around the clock Tel Aviv-based supermarkets was interested in acquiring Tiv Taam, as well. But in the final analysis Tiv Taam's controlling shareholders Kobi Tribitch and Amir Berger sold their stake to Gaydamak at a price far in excess of the market value. Gaydamak, who has almost as much diversity in his investments as he does in his philanthropy, also overpaid for his other acquisitions over the past month, which could mean that even though Roy Alroy who holds the controlling interest in Isal Amlat is denying that the chain is for sale, it could be yet another case of me thinks thou dost protest too much ON THE day after he took journalists on a tour of the square tower of the Azrieli Center last week, architect and real estate developer David Azrieli celebrated the inauguration of the square tower, which completes his triple-tower complex with a huge party in which he also marked his 85th birthday. The event was a Who's Who of the Israel business community, with the exception of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger who came to affix the first mezuzah. Actually the sum total of mezuzot for the circular, triangular and square towers in the Azrieli Center must come to well over 1,000 taking into account all the doorways in the high-rise structures. Among the many guests were Nochi Dankner, head of the IDB Investment Group and Shari Arison, who heads the various Arison enterprises and her husband Ofer Glazer, who had just been released from prison after serving time for sexual harassment. Glazer's good behavior behind bars earned him an earlier than anticipated release. In fact, Glazer, a major businessman in his own right, had been out on a weekend furlough just prior to his release. CLAL INSURANCE, Pensions and Finances, which recently acquired the Guard financial Group in the US, has appointed Clal deputy CEO Shai Fogel as Guard Group CEO. Fogel was previously CEO at Direct Insurance. He also has experience with American insurance companies and in the past was actuary for the Arch Insurance Group, New York. Guard specializes in workers' compensation and operates in 22 states across America. Clal Insurance CEO Avigdor Kaplan, in expressing appreciation to Fogel for his willingness to work abroad, said the bulk of Clal's operations were moving overseas in line with a carefully planned strategic process prepared over a long period of time. NOVA MEASURING Instruments Ltd., provider of leading edge stand alone metrology and the market leader of integrated metrology solutions the semiconductor process control market, was the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce Presidents' Trade Award, in recognition of the company's consistently growing sales activities to the semiconductor industry, with exports of $48 million in 2006, a significant portion of which was to the US market. The award was presented at the chamber's annual dinner at the residence of US Ambassador Richard Jones, and in the presence of Industry Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai and Chamber Chairman Zalman Shoval. "We are proud of the recognition Nova received for its long time operations in the US," said Gabi Seligsohn, Nova President and CEO. "Nova has been actively and extensively present in the US Semiconductor industry from day one, drawing much of its revenues from the US market. As part of our strategy to expand our available markets, Nova acquired HyperNex, a US corporation, last August. Our activities encompass strong cooperation with leading players in the semiconductor industry, both in the manufacturing and development areas and we plan to continue strengthening and expanding our US operations in the future." PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert met with Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who was in Israel as the guest of Israel Bonds. The two men discussed the deep ties between Israel and Florida and their continued cooperation, especially in the economic and commercial fields. Crist commended the cooperation in the field of research and development and said he ascribes great importance to Florida's economic ties with Israel. Israel Bonds President Yehoshua Matza received 10 new pens from Crist who had used each of them to sign a new legislation that would enable the investment of surplus state capital in Israel Bonds. Matza gave the pens to American investors who bought Bonds certificates in excess of $1 million. Even though Olmert is known to be a pen collector, he missed out. Crist was also hosted at the Ramat Gan home of former foreign and finance minister Silvan Shalom and his wife Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, where he met leading figures from the business community including Arison, Glazer and Alfred Akirov. CITI FOUNDATION and Tel Aviv University have launched the "Calcalah Acheret" (different economy) project, which is designed to provide personal financial education in the community. The project, in collaboration with the social service departments of the Tel Aviv Municipality and the ORT Singalovsky College, operates on two levels: workshops on financial education and budget planning for groups professionally trained in ORT schools prior to entering the work force; and individual financial education in the community, focusing mainly on providing financial management tools for those who are in economic distress and those utilizing social services. At the same time, the project helps to develop leadership skills among students and create awareness of the importance of contributing to the community. The project trains TAU students majoring in economics, business and public policy to provide financial counseling in underprivileged communities. The students will be integrated into local social welfare frameworks and into other special programs run by non-governmental agencies in the Greater Tel Aviv area, and will provide individual and group financial counseling. Citi is supporting what it considers to be an important initiative by contributing funds, as well as by having employees participate in the educational effort, and providing advice and guidance to the students. Citi Israel CEO Ralph Shaaya who is a member of the project's steering committee said at the launch: "Citi Israel is committed to community programs that encourage our employees to use their knowledge, experience and skills to help educate the underprivileged segment of the population to better manage their finances. We are proud of our collaboration with Tel Aviv University and the student population. We hope that during the coming years other companies within the business community will join us to expand and enhance this initiative." TAU Dean of Students Professor Yoav Ariel, noted the significance of the students' participation in this project: "Many of our students will almost certainly become leaders in the future society of the State of Israel. As a potential leadership group, the students must be made aware of the depth, complexity and challenge that constitute the concept of leadership, and they must train themselves from a personal and professional perspective to serve as a source of inspiration for a just society, economically and socially. Our collaboration with Citi and with the community is very exciting for us and we are prepared to do all we can to advance our shared social objectives," he said.