Funds raised by VCs rise to $1.2b. in '05

Local activity still low; fund raisings expected to slow in 2006.

Israeli venture capital funds raised a net $1.2 billion in 2005, an increase of 40 percent from the $724 million raised in 2004, but that growth was expected to slow in 2006 and there is concern that domestic inactivity may lose out to aggressive foreign activity. "2005 capital raising set a four-year record, confirming the pullout from the year 2000 crisis," said Zeev Holtzman, Chairman of Israel Venture Capital Research Center and Giza Venture Capital. He noted, however, that investments came mostly from foreign sources. "Local inactivity raises concern that Israeli institutions will miss out on the new wave of promising investment opportunities." According to Holtzman, about 25% of investments came from leading foreign financial institutions and pension funds and less than 5% from Israeli institutional investors. The latter, he explained, are more risk-averse and lack the history of venture capital funds. "In the US, pension funds allocate 10% to 20% of their total assets into venture capital, compared with less than 1% in Israel. The change of ownership of Israeli pension funds is expected to increase allocation," he said. According to estimates of the 2005 Annual Survey of Israeli Venture Capital Fund Raising, conducted by the IVC Research Center, $2.3b. in capital is currently available for investment by Israeli VCs, of which $1.4m. is intended for first investments in hi-tech companies. The remainder is reserved for follow-on investments. In 2006, $1b. is expected to be raised by Israeli VCs for investment in Israeli high technology. Capital raised by Israeli venture capital in 2005 was primarily driven by six new Israeli venture capital funds that completed their fund raising last year. At the top of the list was Benchmark Israel II, which closed a $250m. fund, followed by Carmel, which closed its $200m. second fund, and Israel Healthcare Ventures, which closed on a $140m. second fund. Sequoia Israel and Genesis both closed third funds of $200m. and $160m., respectively, while Giza closed its fourth fund after adding $30m. to the $120m. raised in 2004. In addition, first closings were carried out by four Israeli venture capital funds, including Vertex Israel III which closed $120m. and the life science-focused Medica-Poalim, which closed on $80m. in 2005. Several firms, including Concord, Israel Seed and Tamar Ventures suspended their plans to raise new funds in 2005. Between 1992 and 2005, Israeli venture capital funds raised approximately $10.3b., which was allocated exclusively to investments in Israeli technology companies. Of this amount, approximately $6.8b., or 66%, was raised between 2000 and 2005. Over the last five years, Pitango topped the list of most active VC companies, having raised some $800m., followed by Gemini with $436m., Genesis with $400m. and Star with $206m.