Sunday, June 18, 2006

Invest in Israel!

This post comes from CNN:

TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Israeli entrepreneur and industrialist Stef Wertheimer started metalworking firm Iscar in 1952 when no one else would hire him.

Back then it was a small tool company -- now it is one of Israel's biggest corporations and recently hit headlines when American millionaire Warren Buffet paid $4 billion for an 80 percent stake in the company in May.

The sale is the largest corporate deal in Israel's history. It is also Buffett's largest outside of the United States, putting Israel on the map as a destination for offshore investments.

"The only thing I knew how to do without a lot of money was repairing tools. I actually started making and repairing tools for machines," Wertheimer told CNN.

His son Eitan is president of the company. He told CNN that the deal with Buffett came about when he approached the wealthy American investor and businessman.

"I did send him a letter of a page and half that had some writing some numbers and some graphs. After a couple of hours I got an e-mail. A week later we were all of us in Omaha having coffee in his office," Eitan told CNN.

That coffee led to a deal, sending Israel's share market to an all time high.

In a speech to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lauded the deal as a sign of confidence in Israel.

For Stef Wertheimer, it is more than just selling a company. His industrial parks -- all six of them -- include schools, universities and even museums.

Buffett's buy takes Wertheimer one step closer to his dream of building more.

"I want to see that this area will slowly be a part of Europe by having its own qualified industry," he said.

"I'm so happy about the Buffett story which helps me to sell this idea that peace can be made by educating people in the right direction and helping them to have independent private industries -- just normal businesses like everywhere else in the world."

Israel is recording its strongest growth in years and Wertheimer has a vision of uniting a divided nation.

He wants to see Jews and Arabs moving in step with each other, celebrating a nation that becomes known for its industry and innovation.

CNN's Richard Quest and producer Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.

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