NY's Havesi: Olmert plan better for investments

Looking ahead, and provided he is reelected to office later this year, Hevesi hinted at a possible collaboration between New York and Israel.

havesi biz 88  (photo credit: )
havesi biz 88
(photo credit: )
As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continues to seek international approval for his "realignment" program from strategic political partners, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi gave his "investors'" stamp of approval for the plan to make further unilateral withdrawals. "While having Hamas in charge of the government of the PA is a very unhappy circumstance ….. I am encouraged by Olmert's plan that says Israel is not going to wait for partners and will establish its own borders," Hevesi told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "Withdrawal from certain territories, which is incredibly painful, and completion of the security fence makes Israel more secure not less, and an even better investment." Hevesi, who as the sole trustee of New York State's Common Retirement Fund oversees over $1b. of investments in Israel, added that he expects investments in Israel to continue to grow regardless of political circumstances. "The investment community is not structured to issue a resolution of support [for political developments]. It speaks by its actions," he said. "The amount of investment has gone up and indications have been very strong from US investors that this will continue, politics not with standing." He explained that given its stable democracy, stable currency, government that is encouraging private investment, and a regulatory system that is fair and smart and rational, Israel was an attractive arena for investors based purely on financial considerations. Hevesi arrived in the country, on his 26th visit, as part of the World Pension Forum mission to Israel last week. During his stay, he also received the IVA Israel Hi-tech award at the Israel Venture Association Annual Hi-tech conference 2006. The award comes against the backdrop of a commitment the New York State fund made earlier this year to create a private equity fund that would invest $100m. in Israeli hi-tech through venture capital funds. The fund is being managed by financial consulting firm Hamilton Lane, which recently opened an office in Tel Aviv for that purpose and to enhance its contact with Israeli clients for whom it invests in the US. And while Hevesi stressed that the $100m. million is "a done deal," no investments have yet been made. Erik Hirsch, Chief Investment Officer at Hamilton Lane, said the company was in the process of interviewing fund managers and that it would be making its first investment shortly. This latest commitment would bring New York's investments in Israel to $1.55b., about 1% of its total $128b. holdings. Just over half the fund's Israeli investments are in government bonds, while it also holds shares in top companies such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, which provides information-technology security products, and Nice Systems, a developer of digital- recording technology. In addition, the fund has put $250m. into Markstone Capital Group, making it the anchor investor in Israel's largest private equity fund. Looking ahead, and provided he is reelected to office later this year, Hevesi hinted at a possible collaboration between New York and Israel, "to connect Israeli brain power with the US investment capacity and New York brain power," he said, noting the enormous potential that lies in the nano-technology field. Hevesi was elected New York State Comptroller in 2003 and is running for a second term on the Democratic ticket.