Tel_Aviv_Beach_5501Israel embraced by the global business community
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom 195, June 5, 2014
http://bit.ly/1jVlm8m

1. The mega-billion dollar Chinese food conglomerate, Brightfood ($17bn annual sales) acquired 56% of the Israel-based Tnuvah – Israel’s largest food/dairy company – for $1.4bn, aiming to dramatically expand Tnuvah’s global market (Globes Business Daily, May 23, 2014). China’s giant, Shenyang Yuanda ($4bn annual sales) signed a joint venture agreement with the Israel irrigation and fertilizer company, AutoAgronom, including a $2mn investment in expanding AutoAgronom’s marketing posture in China (Globes, May 23). Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of China’s State Council: “[Israel reflects] diligence, wisdom, creativity and perseverance…. China and Israel signed science and technology cooperation agreements in 1993 and 2010…. China and Israel cooperation in science, technology and innovations (STI) has taken deep roots, blossoming and yielding fruitful results…. China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and Israel’s third largest trading partner globally…. Enhancing China-Israel STI cooperation will bring more benefits to the peoples of both countries….” (Jerusalem Post, May 17).

2. Singapore’s holding company, Kusto ($1.4bn annual sales), acquired Israel’s Tambour paint manufacturer for $140mn (Globes May 28).

3. ”South Korea will host during July 14-16, 2014 a South Korea-Israel conference, upgrading bilateral cooperation in the area of industrial technology, including information security and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Israel is the world’s second technology leader – following the USA – in the area of UAV technologies. Israel is recognized as one of the world’s best developers of cyber threat response systems. In 1999, South Korea and Israel signed a cooperation agreement; in 2001, they established the Korea-Israel Industrial Research & Development Foundation, a $2mn annual venture financing (so far) 132 joint industrial R&D activities. Israel is our great benchmarking model, as it has set an example by developing a creative economy and leading the global market and technology through innovation-based entrepreneurship (South Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, April 18).”

4. France’s Alcatel-Lucent plans to open a Bell Labs research center in Kfar Saba, Israel – in a building housing an existing Alcatel-Lucent cloud-band technology facility – in order to upgrade its cloud-band technology in face of global competition. Bell Labs is Alcatel’s research arm. Alcatel’s CEO, Michel Combes: “Israel was the first country to really innovate the interaction between telecommunications and Internet technologies…. Alcatel may invest in Israeli cyber technologies.” Israel is one of three-four peak sites for Alcatel’s investments. According to the San Francisco-based Compass, Inc., Israel’s commercial hub is the world’s second-best startup area behind Silicon Valley (Bloomberg, May 20).

5. The Mountainview, California-based Intuit acquired Israel’s Check for $360mn (The Marker, May 27). Israel’s Marimedia raised $50mn on AIM, the secondary stock exchange in London (Globes, May 23).

6. The three leading global credit rating companies reaffirm Israel’s solid rating, while lowering the rating of most developed countries. Standard & Poor’s (S&P): “Israel’s economy is doing well enough that the country can now be considered high income…. S&P expects per capita income (almost $40,000) to grow to almost $42,000 by 2017. Just five years ago it was about $28,000. S&P affirmed its long and short term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for Israel at A+ and A-1. Israel’s economy is stable and its prospects for growth are good. Aiding that growth is the extra effort the government to reduce debt as a percentage of GDP (2.5% budget deficit during the first third of 2014). Currently that figure is at 67% and is expected to drop to 61% by 2017. Inflation is expected to remain low (currently at 1.5%). Unemployment is at 5.6% (Times of Israel, March 28). Fitch reaffirmed Israel’s credit rating at A, joining Moody’s (A1) and S&P (A+), reflecting global confidence in Israel’s long-term viability.

Shabbat Shalom and a rewarding weekend,

UPDATE:

Gaza Violence No Deterrent to Israel Investors: Chart of the Day

The shekel is approaching a three-year high and bond yields are at a record low as investors bet the latest fighting in Gaza will fail to put a dent in Israel’s economic growth.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows Israeli securities have gained even as volatility in risk gauges, including credit-default swaps, has increased amid a surge in violence since the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian youth last month.

“Most of Israel’s economy continues to operate and investors understand that this unfortunate situation can’t do much to deter growth,” Tal Zohar Avda, the Tel Aviv-based chief executive officer of FXCM Israel, a currency trading house, said by phone yesterday.

More than 700 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and at least 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the fighting, which intensified last week when Israel added to its air bombardment by sending troops into Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Israel in pursuit of truce negotiations in which Egypt, the traditional mediator of Gaza conflicts, has also been involved.

It’s the worst fighting since November 2012 when Israel and militants exchanged fire for about eight days as the TA-25 Index of stocks gained 0.7 percent. In the Gaza War of December 2008 to January 2009, the equity benchmark outperformed developed-nation stocks, advancing about 5 percent in the period while global shares slumped approximately 4 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wainer in Tel Aviv at dwainer3@bloomberg.net