Jewish-Argentinean billionaire buys stake in IDB

Eduardo Elsztain's $25 million purchase in holding company gives majority owner Nochi Dankner a badly needed lifeline.

Nochi Dankner 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nochi Dankner 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nochi Danker's Rosh Hashana prayers must have reached the right address.
News emerged Wednesday shortly after the holiday ended that the businessman struck a deal with Jewish-Argentinean billionaire Eduardo Elsztain that would provide his heavily indebted IDB Holding Corp. A badly needed lifeline.
According to media reports, Elsztain bought 9.5 percent of the parent company through which Dankner controls IDB for 25 million dollars in an agreement helped arranged by Rabbi Yosef Pinto, Dankner's spiritual advisor.
Elsztain, a Chabadnik and prominent member of the World Jewish Congress, a Jewish advocacy group, is said to have an option to increase his stake in the company by 30 percent for another 75 million dollars by the end of the year.
For Dankner, the deal must come as a huge relief. In recent weeks media in Israel has been rife with speculation that the holding giant with a diverse portfolio that includes stakes in Cellcom, a mobile phone company; Shufersal, a supermarket chain; real estate assets and, until its sale to businessman Shlomo Ben-Zvi goes through, the newspaper Maariv, faces imminent bankruptcy.
Dankner has been fighting hard to keep his company afloat. The recent deal has already sent IDB's shares in the Tel Aviv stock exchange soaring.
The two businessmen's religious ties seem to have played a part in brokering the deal. Dankner is a Kabbalah enthusiast who has credited Pinto, a Jewish mystic with a following among businessmen and celebrities, with his success. Elsztain is affiliated with Chabad and donates generously to the haredi movement's activities in his native Argentina and around the world.
Pinto is said to have put the two in touch after Dankner was looking for an investor.