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"Over the four-and-a-half years we worked together, I learned to appreciate his wisdom and understanding," said the chairman of Bank Hapoalim, Shlomo Nehama, yesterday as the bank's former CEO, Amiram Sivan, was laid to rest at Kiryat Shaul cemetery.

Sivan, who was at the helm of Bank Hapoalim for 16 years, until April 2002, is recognized as having turned the bank around, making it the most profitable and largest bank in the economy. He died suddenly last Thursday from illness at the age of 65. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Sivan's funeral was attended by hundreds of bankers, business personalities and Bank Hapoalim employees. Nehama, who delivered the eulogy, said that though he had small arguments with Sivan, "he always maintained that professional and relevant fairness that characterized him. I saw Amiram at board meetings, in the corridors of power, in meetings with clients, visiting bank branches and at conferences, and it was clear that his work and activity at the bank gave him enormous pleasure, as he himself told me in private conversation."

Former MK Uzi Baram, one of Sivan's close Jerusalem colleagues, also spoke at the funeral. "He left behind a lifetime's achievement that is a role model for others, but I would be telling a lie if I said that he wanted to go - quite the opposite was the case."