Business Scene

Lev Leviev received the news that his company once again topped the list of Israel's 30 largest exporters of polished diamonds.

NOTHING SUCCEEDS like success, and the success of Israeli business ventures in Poland prompted the Polish franchisees of UniCredit to initiate a UniCredit presence in Israel with the aim of encouraging further Israeli investments in Poland, which in turn provides a gateway to the rest of Europe. While it was important for members of Israel's business community to hear about UniCredit, the Warsaw Stock Exchange and investment potential in Poland from UniCredit executives Sergio Ermotti, deputy CEO of the UniCredit Group; Alicja Kornasiewicz, CEO, chairwoman and head of UMIB in Poland; and Jaroslaw Derylo, co-head of UMIB Poland's investment banking; and Ludwik Sobolowski, president of the board of directors of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, it was much more important for them to have this confirmed by Israeli business people who have done well in Poland, and who continue to engage in projects there. Thus, while they did take note of what the Polish visitors had to say at a reception hosted by Kornasiewicz, Ernmotti and Sobolewski, they paid a lot more attention to Moti Zisser, chairman of Elbit Medical Imaging and its Plaza Centers subsidiary; Israel Greidinger, CFO of Cinema City; and Yigal Ozechov, co-chairman of Multimedia Polska. Zisser began investing in Poland 13 years ago and currently has nine projects underway. He recalled that after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the three main candidates for the title of "Business Capital of Europe" were Warsaw, Budapest and Prague. Zisser admitted he had gambled wrongly and that was why the first shopping mall he built in Central Europe was in Budapest. "There is no doubt today that Warsaw is the business capital of Europe, Prague is the capital of art and music and Budapest the pleasure and leisure capital," he said. Zisser is now building a mega-resort complex in Budapest. His companies are listed on both the London and Warsaw Stock Exchanges. He advised that for long-term investments, London is the better choice, but for short-term investments, Warsaw is much more responsive, aggressive and dynamic. Cinema City International has more than 500 screens in six countries. More than half the screens are in Poland, Greidinger said. His company, together with Uri Dori Engineering Works, in 2000 established the Ronson Group, which is currently developing 5000 prestige apartments in Poland. Greidinger's companies have a seven-year relationship with UniCredit and a two-year relationship with the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Ozechov has been investing in Poland for 14 years, building private and public companies for billions of dollars. He advocated that business people who do well in Poland should give something back. "A number of people in this room have done well in Poland but have not done much in the way of philanthropy," he said. He and his non-Jewish Polish partner, Tomek Ulatowski, are both history buffs, but when they discussed the history of the Jews in Poland they had conflicting views based on what each had learned. As a result they decided to do something to highlight the history of Polish Jews and have become closely involved with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Tgether with five other people, they have covered most of the costs to date, in addition to sponsoring programs that enable Polish and Israeli students to interact with each other. The museum offers many options for involvement and Ozechov suggested that Israelis doing business in Poland get involved any way they can. "Business in Poland is very good, but business without philanthropy is a very short-sighted view of the world," he said. Derylo, in response to a question about UniCredit's decision to have a presence in Israel, replied: "We wouldn't be here if we didn't think that the potential is fantastic." He also dubbed Zisser as "the Christopher Columbus of investors in Eastern Europe," and credited Greidinger with having brought Israel to Poland and Poland to Israel, enabling Poles to realize how invigorating a country Israel is and what a lot of potential it has. "Israel doesn't have a better corporate ambassador than Israel Greidinger," Derylo said. THERE'S GLORY in absentia. Instead of rejoicing with family and friends in Tel Aviv, Lev Leviev received the news in London that his company, L.L.D. Diamonds Ltd., again topped the annual list of Israel's 30 largest exporters of polished diamonds. According to the Israel Diamond Controller's Office in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, L.L.D exported $522 million worth of polished diamonds in 2007. AFTER ALL the hype surrounding the replacement(s) for Haim Yavin on Channel 1's Mabat News, with reports that Geula Even was the natural choice, followed by conflicting reports over whether she would present the news solo or with a partner, followed by further reports that the choice of partner required her approval, followed by additional reports that she wanted to receive NIS 70,000 for doing the show, followed by a statement from the Israel Broadcasting Authority that that a partner had been found in the person of Yinon Magal, who would begin presenting Mabat alongside Even in February, the IBA on Sunday issued a new statement to the effect that Even will not be presenting Mabat. Unable to reach an agreement over salary, due to the fact that the IBA has established a new ceiling for salaries, Even decided to stay put with the news programs she is currently moderating. As a result, the Mabat News duo will be Merav Miller and Magal. Although the swap was very sudden, the result after Even stepped out of the role, came as no surprise. Miller was brought in as a television news reader by Uri Levi, the head of the television news division in 2006, and he has remained her patron. Another factor in the decision was that because of the relatively short period in which she has been employed by Channel 1, Miller will receive a lower salary than Magal, who will reportedly be earning NIS 50,000 a month. Still floundering in its mammoth deficit, the IBA is happy to have a budding star on a relatively low salary.