American billionaire Warren Buffett landed in Israel yesterday for a 36-hour visit. Buffett will meet this afternoon with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the director of his office, Raanan Dinur.
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Eitan Wertheimer, chair of Iscar, which Buffett bought in May, will accompany the Oracle of Omaha during his visit. Wertheimer is credited with turning Iscar, which manufactures metal-cutting tools, into a particularly successful $5 billion international company. Wertheimer led the campaign to sell the company to Buffett, who picked up 80 percent of the firm for $4 billion.
Wertheimer hosted Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Monger, last night at a private dinner. Buffett today will commence his tour of the factory, located in Upper Galilee's Tefen industrial zone. When the factory came under missile fire during the recent war in Lebanon, Buffett said that the war did not cause him to regret the deal, adding that the U.S. is not necessarily a safer place to invest than Israel is. If something were to happen to the U.S., something would happen to Israel as well, and vice versa, he pointed out.
Buffett plans to hold a press conference in the company's factory and then will fly to Haifa's Rambam Hospital, where Wertheimer is busy setting up a global biotechnology center. Then, Buffett and his entourage will fly to Jerusalem for the Olmert meeting.
Iscar President Jacob Harpaz said yesterday Buffett would meet with Iscar Israel's senior staff as well as with company workers during his tour of the factory. "People in the country who have not yet met him are curious about him," said Harpaz. "He's a friendly man, he loves to meet with people, and he'll mingle among the people on the tour.
"It's only natural that a man who bought a company would want to see it. He's had confidence so far in the company, and after the meeting he'll be even more confident that he made the right decision," Harpaz said.
This evening, Buffett will deliver a speech at a conference being held in Jerusalem's King David Hotel, where he will dispense his economic wisdom. Some 300 business people and political figures, including Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, will attend the event. Buffett will spend the night at the King David, where he and his entourage reserved all 13 suites. Buffett will stay in the suite used by British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week. The hotel is providing Buffett with a private chef, though he has yet to place any special orders.