Four Billion Dollars

Many years ago – it was either in the application for an MBA or during the Foreign Office tests, I don’t recall exactly – I was asked to write a short essay about the person I admired most. I chose Steph Wertheimer, the Israeli entrepreneur who set up his business empire, the Iscar group, in northern Israel. Wertheimer was a Member of the Knesset for four years, built the industrial park in Tefen and the neighbouring community of Kefar Veradim. In 1991 he received the highest award the State of Israel can bestow upon its citizens – The Israel Prize.

Warren Buffet, the legendary investor and “the world’s second richest man”, announced yesterday that his investment company will buy 80% of Iscar for 4 billion dollars. That’s a valuation worth more than 4% of Israel’s annual GDP, for a privately-owned company!

Beyond its economic value, this deal has tremendous implications regarding foreign investment in Israel. Kudos to the Wertheimer family; Israel needs more of these people.

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