The first challenge facing Tnuva's new owners is personal relationships: The shareholders are two nearly diametric opposites. If they manage to overcome issues of honor and ego, relating to "who decides and who carries out," they will complement one another. If not, it's a recipe for disaster.
The above, of course, refers to Zehavit Joseph-Cohen, who represents Apax, which owns the largest share (56%) in Tnuva, and Meir Shamir, the minority partner (21%), who was recruited not because of his management ability, but to prevent him from torpedoing the deal that Apax had put together.
Joseph-Cohen lacks management experience, but possesses unusual financial experience and talent. She is reserved and calculated, and every business move is precisely measured. She represents a British fund whose policy dictates active involvement in its worldwide investments. Her business style is cold American-British.
Shamir is an experienced, independent businessman, an investor who is considered daring and willing to take big risks. He will be serving as Tnuva's chairman in the immediate future, and it is doubtful that he will appreciate a process of a thorough review that the fund will wish to perform. And like a true Israeli, he believes in "no worries," a style not likely to go over well with a conservative British investment fund.
Shamir is unaccustomed to carrying out the orders of others, and Apax is not accustomed to altering its strategy to placate a minority shareholder who thinks differently. Where will it all lead? It's not enough for these partners to have family lunches together. They will need to learn how to avoid stepping on each other's toes.
One solution would be to bring in Amikam Cohen into the arena to serve as chairman. Cohen is accustomed to executing orders of foreign shareholders. He will undoubtedly get along with the two opposites. The problem is, Cohen has not decided whether he will step into Tnuva, or manage the $500 million Hutchison water initiative.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now