Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good news from Israel

Yoram Ettinger

Fitch – the top credit rating company – has raised Israel’s credit rating from “A minus” to “A stable” (foreign exchange) and from A to “A plus stable” (local currency). Fitch justifies Israel’s upgrading by the substantial decline of Israel’s debt/GDP ratio by 20% in 4 years, down to 80% (The Marker, Feb. 12, 2008).Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) Bank has added Israel’s Shekel to the top 14 global currencies (The Marker, Feb. 14).

Bank of Israel projects a 4.4% growth for Israel, compared with 2% for France and Germany, 1.9% - USA, 1.6% - Europe, 1.5% - Japan and 1.4% - Britain (The marker, Feb. 6).

2. Over 200 global companies operate research & development centers in Israel, employing about 65,000 employees. The largest R&D centers are Intel, HP, Motorola, Marvel, Applied Materials (Globes, Jan. 31).

3. eBay’s second acquisition in Israel (following the 2005 acquisition of Shopping.Com for $634MN) – FraudsScience for $170MN (Globes, Jan. 29). $6.5BN Nobel BioCare acquired Israel’s Alpha Bio for $95MN (Globes, Feb. 8). John Deere acquired 75% of Israel’s Plastro Irrigation for $50MN (The Marker, Feb. 22). Yahoo’s second Israeli acquisition - FoxyTunes for $35MN (The Marker, Feb. 5). England’s T. Rowe Price International acquired 3% of Israel’s Mirland for $31MN (Jan. 24). Walt Disney’s investment arm, Shamrock, acquired17% of Israel’s Ahava for $12MN. Shamrock’s overall investments in Israel total $2BN (Globes, Feb. 22). Merck acquired the sun-protective operations of Israel’s SolGel for $10MN (Globes, Jan. 24).

4. JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Siemens Ventures, Horsley Bridge, NY State Employees Pension Fund, CalPers, Oregon State Employees Pension Fund, Vintage Ventures, Harbor West, Flag Capital, Portfolio Advisors and Nightsbridge participate in the $235MN 3rd Carmel VC Fund. Recent closing by other Israeli VC Funds: Pitango - $300MN, Gemini - $140MN, Giza - $100MN (Globes, Feb. 4). Israel’s Electric Company raised $250MN in the Singapore’s bonds market (The Marker, Jan. 20).

5. Morgan Stanley ($30MN) and the Swiss bank, UBS ($30MN) co-led a $100MN 2nd round of private placement by Israel’s TwoerVision (Globes, Feb. 5). Northern California’s Canaan Partners and Mariner Hedge Fund participated in a $41MN round of private placement by Israel’s N-Trig (Globes, Feb. 21). OrbiMed Advisors led a $16MN 1st round by Israel’s Gelesis, along with Queensland BioCapital, PurTech and ExoTech BioSolutions (Globes, Jan. 23). Motorola has led a $15MN 2nd round by Israel’s DesignArt (Globes, Feb. 12). Battery Ventures, Hyperion and Stage Wagon participated in a $12MN 3rd round by Israel’s CVidya Networkds (The Marker, Feb. 7). Intel Capital participated in a $9MN 3rd round by Israel’s Safend (Globes, Feb. 19). NorWest Ventures led a $10MN 2nd round by Israel’s Unisfair (Globes, Jan. 21). Benchmark co-led an $8MN 2nd round by Israel’s Clarizen (The Marker, Feb. 6).

6. Yahoo’s vice president, Brad Horowitz: “You can’t play in the top high tech league without Israeli computer specialists. Rather than attract Israeli talents to us, we’ve decided to establish an R&D in Israel” (Globes, Jan. 21).

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