While VC and angel investment money has been getting harder to come by for start-ups in the US and Europe, newly-minted billionaires from the Far East — especially China — are searching the world for value investments. They may just find them in Israel, says Edouard Cukierman, director of the prestigious Tel Aviv investment firm that bears his name. To help Chinese investors find opportunities in Israel, Cukierman will be hosting 20 Chinese billionaires this November at the first Go4China event.
Go4China is based on Cukierman’s successful Go4Europe, which since 1997 has been bringing European investors to Israel. Go4Europe is considered one of Israel’s top investment events; the sponsors include organizations and companies like NYSE Euronext, Medtronic, KPMG, Rusnano (the Russian government’s nanotechnology development company), Novartis, France Telecom, and more. Cukierman acts a sort of matchmaker, bringing investors to meet with Israeli technology companies – and as a law firm, helping to put together deals. Last year, over 1,200 people participated, 400 of them from Europe.
But with the credit crisis in Europe and the weak economy in the US, finding funds — both for start-ups for established companies — has been getting harder. So, Cukierman, and its partner in the effort, the Catalyst Investment Fund, are looking east. Go4China will put Israeli technology, start-ups, and even mid-size companies seeking investments on display for Chinese investors flush with cash, who want better returns than they can get from banks or US Treasury notes.
At least one Chinese company — ChemChina — found that value last fall, when it bought a majority stake in Israel’s Makhteshim-Agan crop protection technology company. Makhteshim-Agan’s sales were up 6.1% in the first quarter of 2012, and with the help of its new Chinese senior partner, the company is set to expand its reach in Asia significantly.
Speaking to journalists last week, Cukierman said that he had carefully chosen the participants in the Go4China event, qualifying them to ensure that they would feel financially comfortable enough to invest in a country they didn’t know much about. Leading the delegation will be Ronnie Chan, one of the biggest real estate developers in pricey Hong Kong.
The objective of the trip, said Cukierman, is to set up an investment fund, along with deals between Israeli and Chinese companies. “Israel has a good reputation in China, and from our experience with previous funds we will be able to set up opportunities for Israeli companies interested in expanding to the Chinese market.”
But not all Israeli start-ups are enamored of the possibility of Chinese investments. Zach Lichtblau, an attorney who works with Israeli companies seeking to set up shop in China, told The Times of Israel that he has gotten numerous inquiries from technology companies who rejected offers by Chinese investors, mostly over concerns that they could end up losing control of their technology.
The concern is legitimate, Lichtblau said, but if handled correctly, Chinese money could prove to be a boon for companies. “China has a poor reputation when it comes to respecting intellectual property, but if a contract is set up properly, it is possible to work with Chinese investors without having to worry about technology theft. It all depends on how the contracts are set up.”
Besides, Lichtblau said, Chinese investors generally prefer to put their money into an investment fund, letting a professional manager handle the technical details.
“Anyone in China who had the kind of money to put into investing in technology companies abroad is by definition a savvy investor, so whatever they put their money into is going to be something they are convinced will pay off for them. They’re more interested in a strategic investment than the specifics of technology,” said Lichtblau. “So any Israeli company that is looking for funding can consider courting Chinese investors without fear — provided they ensure that the contract they sign takes their interests into account.”
Source: Times of Israel
Despite the sound system giving out during his first song, Morrissey’s concert in Tel Aviv Saturday night was a success. The fans roared with glee as the former lead singer of The Smiths sang from his repertoire of hits.
Moz, as the singer is sometimes known, tried his hand at Hebrew during the show, asking the crowd, “Ma Nishma?” (“How’s it going?”), replacing “Yes or no” with “Ken o lo” in one of his songs, and thanking the crowd by saying “toda.”
Earlier on Saturday, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai presented the English singer with the keys to the city. The singer seemed genuinely excited by the gesture as he showed the crowd his prize.
The singer, a known vegetarian and activist for animal rights, said that now that he holds the keys to the city “things are going to change.” Before starting to sing his vegetarian anthem “Meat Is Murder” he began delineating “No more McDonalds, no more Kentucky Fried Chicken…no more Madonna.”
It was reported that his contract with the concert’s Israeli producer stipulated that no meat be sold on premises, as was the case in his last concert in Israel. Despite this, hotdogs were on sale at the stands in the concert hall.
At the end of the show, Morrissey began waving and wrapping himself in the Israeli flag to the delight of the cheering crowd.
TThe King of the Ashanti tribe of Ghana visited President Shimon Peres on Sunday, during his first visit to Israel. The two discussed possible cooperation between Israel and Ghana, and the king presented Peres with a ceremonial dress.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the king of the largest tribe in Ghana, which consists of some 12 million people. The Cambridge graduate arrived at the meeting dressed in the colorful tribal dress, and was shaded by an assistant carrying a parasol.
The king presented the Israeli president with a traditional multi-colored garment, decorated with symbols of good luck and success. A second gift given to Peres was a stool with a silver porcupine, an animal symbolizing prosperity.
The king expressed his tribe’s and country’s condolences over the lethal terror attack in Bulgaria last week.
“We are with the state of Israel and the families of the victims.” Osei Tutu II said, adding that he knows Peres is “a man of peace. It is your hope and you work to try and achieve it.”
There are many ways for Israel and Ghana to work together, the king said, noting that his country was one of the leading African countries when it came to financial development.
“Last year Ghana experienced 14.6 percent growth,” and that could continue now that it has started to utilize newly found oil reserves, he said.
Peres and the king spoke about the options of cooperating in a number of fields, including medicine, water technology, communications and infrastructure. The tribal leader said he and his countryfolk looked at Israel as a success story, and they hoped to learn from it.
Ghana “welcomes Israelis who want to invest” and do business, the king said. “We have much to learn from you,” he told Peres.
Source: Times Of Israel
The EU will offer Israel upgraded trade and diplomatic relations in more than 60 areas at a high-level meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, just weeks after European foreign ministers warned that Israeli policies in the West Bank “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible,” The Guardian reported Monday.
A diplomatic source shared with the newspapers details of the package of benefits that will be offered to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
According to the report, the EU will widen its relationship with Israel on a range of areas including migration, energy and agriculture. It will remove obstacles impeding Israel’s access to European government-controlled markets and enhance Israel’s co-operation with nine EU agencies, including Europol and the European Space Agency
One senior EU diplomat criticized the decision citing Israel’s non-compliance with its obligations under international law. He noted that not one minister was prepared to oppose Tuesday’s agreement for fear of irking Jewish communities.
“I was struck by the fact that a whole range of relations was offered to Israel – at the request of Israel – as if nothing is happening on the ground,” the diplomat said.
“Most ministers are too afraid to speak out in case they are singled out as being too critical towards Israel, because, in the end, relations with Israel are on the one hand relations with the Jewish community at large and on the other hand with Washington – nobody wants to have fuss with Washington.
“So (ministers) are fine with making political statements but they refrain from taking concrete action.”
In January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the EU and Israel postponed upgrade talks due to the situation in Gaza.