Business Scene

Lev Leviev chooses Netafim President and CEO Erez Melzer to succeed Pini Cohen.

Lev Leviev 88 (photo credit: )
Lev Leviev 88
(photo credit: )
ALTHOUGH IT has already been announced that Lev Leviev the chairman of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., has chosen Netafim President and CEO Erez Melzerto succeedPini Cohen, 55, who announced his resignation last week, Cohen will remain on board till September. It was Cohen who spoke as company CEO in Eilat on Sunday night where Gottex, one of the company's subsidiaries, was celebrating its 50th anniversary in the presence of buyers, agents, distributors and clients from around the world. Cohen recalled that eight years ago, when Gottex was in a "very bad" situation, Leviev had taken a strong strategic decision to change the future of the company. Gottex, today, is a very strong and profitable company with strong branding, said Cohen, declaring Gottex to be a leader in the international swimwear market. Gottex President and CEO Joey Schwebber said Gottex had been founded through the vision of a revolutionary woman - whom he neglected to name, though everyone present knew her identity. (See Wednesday's Grapevine for the answer.) He credited Gottex with having produced the first luxury swimwear catalogue; being the first swimwear company to employ supermodels; and the first to utilize glamour and sensuality as marketing tools. "We're simply the best in the business," he boasted. "We are the world's most recognized brand of haute couture swimwear." Gottex sells in more than 80 countries and, according to Schwebber, will enter the Chinese market in 2007 - all poised to make a splash during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. THE ANNOUNCEMENT last week that Cohen was quitting Africa Israel took the capital markets community by surprise. Cohen has been so totally identified with Africa Israel for the past eight years that it was difficult for anyone to believe he was leaving. The fact that he is stepping down from his position does not mean that he is backing away from Leviev, however. On the contrary, the two may be involved in future business deals in the Far East. Leviev has already made it known that he is weighing the prospect of a Far Eastern joint venture between Africa Israel and Pini Cohen. Even if this plan does not get off the ground, there will still be a relationship of sorts. Cohen owns a 1 percent stake in Africa Israel valued at around $27 million. In addition he will receive handsome severance pay somewhere in the range of $3m., which is a good start for a new life. During Cohen's period with Africa Israel, the company spread its wings internationally and has extensive holdings in the US, Russia and various East European countries. TWO PEOPLE who are interested in seeing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remain in office as long as possible are his personal secretary Shula Zaken, who has been with him since he was a young lawyer, and the new director-general of the Prime Minister's Office Ra'anan Dinur, who accompanied Olmert from the office of the Mayor of Jerusalem to the Ministry for Commerce and Industry and from there to the Prime Minister's Office. Dinur this week took over from Ilan Cohen who had served as director-general under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The changeover effectively put an end to the Sharon era. In his farewell remarks about Cohen at the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said that whatever differences there were among ministers, there was consensus that Cohen was incomparably fair, efficient, serious, responsible and dedicated. He was involved in all of the Government's major decisions, especially the Disengagement Plan, in which he dealt with almost every aspect related to its implementation, said Olmert, who lauded Cohen's wisdom and sensitivity. Cohen will still be connected to the Prime Minister's office as an external advisor. Olmert has asked him to continue to advise him because he values his understanding and counsel. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSWOMAN Galia Albin, who is the president and chief executive officer of Almedia, which operates in the Middle East, Europe and North America, with investments in media, technology and real estate, is very much involved in Israel's film and television industry, so much so that she hosts a her own program - The Club on Educational Television. Always on the lookout for new material for the show, Albin last week visited the Wingate Institute and met with Prof. Boris Blumenstein from the Center for the Research of Sports Medicine, who introduced her to the physiological and psychological aspects of exercise in human performance in relation to movement, as well as the five steps approach to mental preparedness techniques for enhancing running performance. He also introduced Albin to some of Wingate's relaxation techniques. Albin had no trouble understanding the professional side of it. She has an MA in psychology in addition to which she is a graduate of the Tel Aviv University Law faculty. Whether what she learned at Wingate will just translate into material for her show or whether she will incorporate it into her business activities remains to be seen. ISRAEL AIRCRAFT Industries has announced the appointment of Nissim Hadas as general manager of IAI subsidiary Elta Systems. Hadas replaces Israel Livnat. IAI general manager Itzhak Nissim said Hadas combines professional technological know-how with broad-based experienced after years of supplying advanced weapons systems to the IDF and to foreign clients. During his 23 years at Elta, Hadas, 53, who joined the company after leaving the Israel Air Force where he was an electronics officer, played a crucial role in building Elta's infrastructure and contributing to the company's growth. He has been involved in numerous development projects and has held various executive positions. THE NEW chair of the comptrollers committee on the Board of Directors of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) is attorney Gitit Guterman whose areas of expertise include securities and finance companies. Guterman has been a representative of the public on the TASE Board of Directors since 2002. A WOMAN'S WORK is never done. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik has caused a flurry by deciding that although the Knesset is closed on Fridays, it's a regular work day for her, and a day in which she wants to work in her office. Other MKs may feel pressured to follow Itzik's example, and the return of the Friday work day, which has all but disappeared in certain sectors of the economy, may be just around the corner.