Hi! Sign in or Registration
Looking for Investors
Israeli Companies Map
Made in Israel Online Exhibition
World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv
Author  Amiram Barkat

World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv

From Globs

Last year, Rami Levy joined BTI, the group of businesspeople that supports peace with the Palestinians for the sake of the economy. When this step raised some eyebrows, Levy, a dyed in the wool Likudnik, stressed that his political position was still far from that of those who support the Oslo process. But in Oslo, it turns out, there has actually been a move in Levy's direction recently, or, to be more precise, in the direction of Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd. (TASE:RMLI).

This stock is one of five Israeli stocks that in 2013 became part of the of the investment portfolio of the Government Pension Fund of Norway, the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. At the end of 2013, the fund held shares in Rami Levy Chain Stores worth NIS 18 million, out of total holdings of NIS 3.5 billion in 62 stocks traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Was the decision to invest in Ramy Levy Chain Stores politically motivated? Unlikely. But in other instances of investment in Israeli companies, the fund has certainly acted out of avowedly non-economic considerations. So, for example, in January this year the fund announced that it was putting Africa-Israel Investments Ltd.(TASE:AFIL), controlled by Lev Leviev, and its subsidiary Danya Cebus, back on its blacklist.

This step was taken on the recommendation of the fund's ethics committee, which determined last November that the two companies were guilty of contributing to severe breaches of human rights through construction in East Jerusalem. As a result of this decision, the fund will sell off its holdings in Africa-Israel, which were worth NIS 7.3 million.

Another loser is communications equipment producer Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:MLNX). During 2103, the Norwegian fund liquidated its holding in the company, which only a year previously amounted to some NIS 60 million. Its holding in Emblaze Ltd. (LSE:BLZ) was also liquidated last year. Similar things have happened in the more distant past. In September 2009, for example, the fund decided to sell its holdings in defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) because it provided equipment for the separation fence.

Wary of the gas partnerships

These instances are perhaps discordant to Israeli ears, but the general picture of the Norwegian fund's activity is actually positive from an Israeli point of view. In the course of 2013, the value of its investment in companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose by 43% in nominal terms, from NIS 2.4 billion to nearly NIS 3.5 billion. Even discounting the boom on the stock exchange, the rise is impressive: the fund's proportionate holding in shares on the Tel Aviv 100 list grew by 21% last year, exceeding 0.5% of the total of shares listed.

At the same time, the fund raised it holdings of Israel government bonds from NIS 2.674 billion to NIS 3.75 billion. Another NIS 693 million of the fund's money is invested in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA). The fund's total investment in the Israeli capital market is thus nearly NIS 8 billion.

The fund's largest equity holdings are in Teva, the banks, and Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL), with the best performing stock being Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI). Apart from Rami Levy, it is noteworthy that the fund has added to its portfolio two gas exploration companies,Delek Energy Systems Ltd. (TASE: DLEN) and JOEL Jerusalem Oil Exploration Ltd. (TASE: JOEL). In both cases, the investment is in the parent company, and not in the partnerships they control, Delek-Drilling, Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L), and Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L), which could indicate aversion in principle to investment in limited partnerships.

What lies behind the growth in the fund's investment in Israeli stocks? Journalist Anders Horntvedt of financial newspaper "Finansavisen" points in this context to the decision by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance in the summer of 2012 to include Israel in its emerging markets index. "Beyond that, it is no secret that the current government in Norway holds more positive views on Israel than the previous government, and that certainly can't harm," Horntvedt adds.

Indeed, on October 16, 2013, a new government was sworn in in Oslo headed by a center-right party, replacing a coalition of left-wing parties that took an openly pro-Palestinian stance. Since then, the new Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, has declared her opposition to boycotting Israel.

Aharon (Orni) Izakson, who heads the Norwegian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, can testify to the warming of relations between the two countries. Izakson points to growing interest on the part of Norwegian companies in Israel's oil and gas exploration industry, and mentions an Israel-Norway business conference planned for November in Israel. "I hope that it will also be possible to promote the signing of an R&D agreement between the countries," he says.

Will we see more Norwegian money invested in Israeli know-how?

"I hope and believe that we will, although in my view it would be better to develop relations on a mutual basis, of investment by both sides."

According to Horntvedt, the Government Pension Fund of Norway will continue to increase its investment in Israel and to reduce its under-exposure to the Israeli market. "The fund is growing rapidly, and so there is every reason to assume that its investments in Israel will continue to grow," he says. "There is nothing at present to prevent the fund from investing in Israel, apart from matters relating to the settlements."

Do you think the ban on Africa-Israel will be broadened to other companies?

"Any company that has activity in East Jerusalem or in settlements on the West Bank runs the risk of being put on the blacklist. Like it or not, that is the fund's declared policy."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 9, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

Globes - World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv

 

More Articles of Home
Tel Aviv ranked world's 3rd hottest city for 2011
Tel Aviv ranked world's 3rd hottest city for 2011By JPOST.COM STAFF  11/01/2010 15:03 Lonely Planet's Top Cities list describes Israel's most international city as hedonistic, tolerant, cultured, and a truly diverse 21st-century hub.After scouring the globe for next year’s hottest cities, the editors at travel guide company Lonely Planet released their Top 10 Cities for 2011 on Sunday, listing what it called a “modern Sin City” – Tel Aviv – at No. 3.Coming in behind New York City and Tangier, Tel Aviv is described as being unified by the religion of hedonism, yet tolerant, cultured and a truly diverse 21st-century hub.Touching on the city’s wellknown night life, Lonely Planet observes, “There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple.”Calling Tel Aviv the most international city in Israel, Lonely Planet points out that the city is home to a large gay community, calling it “a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East.”On a cultural note, they credit the city’s university and museums with making it “the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes.”Lonely Planet recommends strolling down the pleasant tree-lined streets that reach to the Mediterranean Sea, and finding out why Tel Aviv’s residents call it the greatest city on earth.Other cities that made the list were Valencia, the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos, Delhi, Newcastle, and the city the company describes as the spiritual heir to Bob Dylan, Chiang Mai.Lonely Planet on Sunday also listed its Top 10 Countries for 2011. While Israel did not make the 2011 list, Syria did.Coming in at No. 9, the guide lauds Syria’s slowly liberalizing economy and the newfound freedom of no longer having the “noose of the ‘Axis of Evil’ tag hanging around its neck” as some of the reasons for Syria making this year’s list.The writers recommend the old cities of Aleppo and Damascus, exploring the open countryside “strewn with the abandoned playgrounds of fallen empires.”Albania topped the list, with Brazil coming in second.   
Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech
Wanted: Arts majors for high-techFrom GlobsTechnology companies are looking for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box.The average profile for a high-tech worker generally includes an education in systems engineering, computer engineering, or programming. However, in recent years, along with the blossoming of start-ups, many companies are turning to completely different fields to recruit workers. They are looking for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box - attributes that are not necessarily typical of math and engineering graduates.This trend, which characterizes high-tech and start-up companies, reflects a broader trend: companies are increasingly seeking to hire workers who are not conventional fits for the traditional requirements, so they can contribute to intellectual diversity, and help them to see things a little differently.Shai Ozon, CEO of One1 Group, which employs 3,000 workers in IT, is a strong advocate of hiring management talents from different fields. “The idea is to bolster the management layer with people who come from different disciplines, and to diversify the style of management,” he says. “The reason is that we are in an industry that is constantly changing: the technology changes, the customers come from a wide variety for fields, and we are looking for people who will be able to speak in diverse languages, and not necessarily understand the intricate details of the product we are selling, but more relationship management and sales processes. We can teach them about the product.”Are there problems with today’s training?“Apple’s success did not stem from the fact that their computers were better than IBMs, rather from the synthesis of disciplines. For example, once, the role of information systems was to make sure the computer would work. Today, it is to give the business a competitive edge. It is not enough to speak the old language of technology; you need a broader business vision.”What characteristics are you looking for in employees?The people I am looking for may have backgrounds in law, industry and management, and as far as I'm concerned even art. The important thing is that they have some life experience. They first undergo an internship, for about a year and a half, in three levels of specialization: professional training in IT, management coaching, and in organizational culture the company’s business language. Each one of them will hold a variety of positions within the company along the way: projects, sales, etc., and they will see the big picture.“I am looking for assertive, creative people, who understand business, and from that, also sales processes. Personality and ability to communicate are extremely valuable. It is hard to find managers, and, generally, people look in the wrong place. The match has to be as close as possible. We have built a rigorous program, and I want to have 10 employees enter the first round. If I end up with a few good managers, I will be happy. Good managers are worth a lot of money.”Technology with creativityRSA (EMC Information Security division) Israel Director of Research and Innovation CTO Alon Kaufman says that using information for business purposes requires multi-disciplined people, and professional teams need to include, on the one hand, technical people, with backgrounds in statistics, mathematics, or computer science, and, on the other hand, content experts, who understand the business side, and the customers.“There are very few mathematicians who have a natural business sense, therefore, people who can translate and manage all the technical sides and direct them towards something business oriented that will speak to the customers, and will translate the information in the most practical manner into a final product, are very important. But thinking about the final product has to course through the blood of every one of the workers. So that they have the drive to find the simplest algorithm, and the most practical graphics. When we analyze the data, we need people who know how to ask questions, and know how to present the final product, visually speaking. Such a team could include an architect, a statistician, someone with a degree in computer science, and a physicist. The manager of such a team does not need to be an expert in one of the fields; the manager needs to have the personality traits to allow him to connect everyone, to communicate with the team, and to lead.”Is it possible to find such people?“It makes hiring very complicated. Depending on the candidate, you sometimes change the job description, because obviously you will never find yourself exactly. Typically, managers look for people who resemble themselves, but I think this is the biggest mistake - you should search for people who are different.”At the start-up company Innovid, the employee profile is also atypical for high-tech. “The company’s first employee was a Creative Director, which is a position that does not exist at high-tech companies,” says co-founder and global operations manager Zack Zigdon. “What we are creating is something new, and when you approach a client, you have to show him something to convince him. We need creative people to convince the advertisers.”Innovid offers advertisers a new way to present their products using videos that present viewers with options to be exposed to more and more information about the product. For instance, a viewer watching a car commercial may be able to book a test drive, view the car’s interior, or receive price quotes, while watching the commercial. The company has a full team of art and design school graduates working on the video advertising experience.Playtika Israel, which operates in the field of gaming on social networks, and whose primary platform is Facebook, has a hard time finding workers because the company is so specialized. According to head of HR Gabi Karni, she turns to candidates whom, in a typical recruit, she would not be interested in. The company’s content manager is a script writer, and working directly under him is a toy designer. The studio manager previously worked at an ad agency. The marketing manager is an entrepreneur, who previously founded a start-up. One worker was an IDF intelligence officer; his job is to research the competition. “Initially, it was because we had no choice,” says Karni, “But, later, I understood that, surprisingly, the variety and the heterogeneousness bring about our success as an innovative organization that creates products outside of the box. These workers come from a crossroads, seeking a new and challenging path. They come with motivation, hunger, and desire - this is what creates the synergy with the organizations culture and pace. Their learning curve is very steep, and they succeed exceptionally.”“Also seeking literature majors”As mentioned, seeking employees who do not fit the classic profile is not only typical in high-tech. McCann Valley (McXann Erickson ad agency Mitzpe Ramon extension) chairwoman Hana Rado, had a hard time finding young workers in the area. Hence, some of the senior staff relocated to the area from Tel Aviv, but there is a clear preference for Negev residents. “We take people with undergraduate degrees, who have no experience, and they undergo 3 months of training. For the time being, the training is in Tel Aviv, but soon it will be in Mitzpe Ramon. We have psychologists, economists, lawyers, communications majors, literature majors, people who understand language. People who like to write like journalists, economists, biologists. People who are interested in the Internet world. Wonderful people with values. It’s like a start-up in the desert."Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 30, 2013© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013 Globes - Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech      
TAU team takes part in discovering new planet
A team of astronomers at TAU and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have announced the first-ever discovery of an extrasolar planet via induced relativistic beaming of light from the host star.For the past two years, Professor Tsevi Mazeh and his PhD student, Simchon Faigler, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at TAU, have been searching for planets around other stars using a novel detection method. Their technique is based on identifying three very small effects that occur simultaneously as a planet orbits a star. The first effect is Einstein's relativistic "beaming" effect that causes a star to brighten and dim as it is tugged back and forth by an orbiting planet. Detection of planets via the beaming effect was predicted in 2003 by Prof. Avi Loeb, Harvard University and Sackler Professor by Special Appointment at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Scott Gaudi (now at Ohio State University).The second effect that the Faigler-Mazeh method looks for is the stretching of   a star into a football shape by the gravitational tides raised by an orbiting planet. Such distorted star appears brighter when observed from the side, due to the larger visible surface area, and fainter when viewed end-on. The third small effect is due to starlight reflected by the planet itself.Because the brightness variations are extremely small (on the order of one part in ten-thousand), these effects can be detected only with accurate data obtained by space missions. The Tel Aviv team, which is supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant, analyzed data for more than one hundred thousand stars obtained with the NASA space mission Kepler, looking for the beaming and the two other modulations. After discovering a planet candidate, they collaborate with Dr. David Latham from the CfA and his team, which includes Dr. Lars Buchhave, to observe the candidate from the ground for additional spectroscopic confirmation.On May 3rd 2012 Faigler and Mazeh noticed the three effects in one of the stars observed by Kepler. Ground-based observations to confirm the planet detection were performed by Latham and his team at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona, and by Lev Tal-Or, another PhD student from Tel Aviv, at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France. Both telescopes confirmed unequivocally the existence of the planet, now called Kepler-76b.Last week, Faigler, Tal-Or, Mazeh, Latham and Buchhave, announced the discovery in a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.Kepler-76b is in the constellation Cygnus at a distance of about 2000 light years. The planet, with a mass of twice the mass of Jupiter, orbits its parent star very closely, with a period of one and a half days. The proximity of the star probably causes the planet to be tidally locked, so that the same side of the planet faces the star at all times. That part of the planet is heated by stellar radiation to a temperature of about 3500 degrees F.While examining carefully the stellar brightness, the team found strong evidence that the heat absorbed by the planetary atmosphere is carried around the planet by jet stream winds for about 10,000 miles, a substantial fraction of the planetary circumference. Such an effect has been observed before only in the infrared with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. This is the first time a wind effect has been observed in the optical band. The study of such a jet is extremely important for understanding how the planetary atmosphere responds to intense stellar heating.All of the planets found so far by the NASA Kepler mission were discovered because they transit (eclipse) their parent stars. What is special about the TAU new technique is that it can find even non-transiting planets. "The irony is that Kepler-76b is in fact transiting the edge of its parent star,” says Faigler. “This is why originally it was misclassified as an eclipsing binary. Only through detection of the three small effects were we able to determine that it is actually a planet.""This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been used to discover a planet", says Professor Mazeh, who is a participating scientist in the NASA Kepler mission. "We have been searching for this elusive effect for more than two years, and we finally found a planet! It is amazing that already a decade ago Loeb and Gaudi foresaw this happening. Shay Zucker of TAU, a former student of mine, called my attention to this prediction. At first, I did not believe it is possible, but I slowly got into it. Luckily, we got the support of the European Research Council to carry this project forward, and we collaborated with Dave Latham who believed in this project and kept following the false candidates that Simchon and I were giving him. In the end we found Kepler-76b! It is a dream come true.""The discovery proves the feasibility of the method," says Faigler. "We hope to find more planets like Kepler-76b using the same technique. This is possible only because of the exquisite data NASA is collecting with the Kepler spacecraft for more than 150,000 stars."
up


Last Articles


Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2015 Jun 14
Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech From Globs Technology companies are looking for creativ...
Published by Dafna Barmeli-Golan
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Aug 31
World's biggest fund discovers Tel Aviv From Globs Last year, Rami Levy joined BTI, the g...
Published by Amiram Barkat
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Jul 07
Everyone wins when a big company acquires a start-up. From Globs Exactly three years ago,...
Published by Roy Goldenberg
Made in Israel - an online exhibition and catalog of Israeli Products & Services made for export
2014 Jul 07
Executives in Israel for the MIXiii conference tell "Globes" about the future of medici...
Published by Gali Weinreb