Business in Brief

Katsav’s ex-lawyer flees amid theft probe; August VC fund shutters doors.

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Katsav’s ex-lawyer fled abroad amid theft probe

Avi Lavie, a prominent lawyer who represented former President Moshe Katsav during his rape trial, fled abroad in June after he came under suspicion for involvement in art theft. A gag order on his name was lifted on Sunday. An investigation into art theft has been going on for several months, handled by several police divisions and the tax authorities. Suspects are thought to have laundered money and sold fake artwork. On Sunday, the court accepted the state’s petition to lift the gag order on Lavie’s name in connection to the affair. Lavie has not been questioned since he has been abroad since before the investigation became public.
(Yasmin Gueta)

Haaretz shareholder launching new magazine

Businessman Leonid Nevzlin, who holds a 20% share in Haaretz, is planning to launch a new monthly magazine in Israel centered on politics, communications and culture. The magazine’s editor will be Rotem Danon, a senior editor at Israel’s Channel 2 News. Nevzlin, born in Moscow, made his fortune in energy when the USSR dissolved. In 2011, he bought 20% of Haaretz for 140 million shekels. Nevzlin said the new magazine would advance free, independent content in its areas of focus. The magazine is scheduled to launch in the spring. (Nati Tucker)

August VC fund shutters doors

The Star Ventures fund, one of the first venture capital funds in Israel, has sold its portfolio to Saints Capital, reports IVC Online. The portfolio of startups included 17 active companies, including Siano and Orsense. Reportedly people from Star Venture, a hoary oldie indeed at age 22, will remain involved in managing certain assets. Throughout its lifetime Star ran a billion dollars in assets in 14 funds. Among its successes were Creo and Elgotech, sold to Kodak; Tecnomatix, sold to Siemens; and a host of companies that went public including Fundtech, EZchip and Alvarion. Note that not all of these are still alive. (Ruth Schuster)

Museum names hall after man on the lam

Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum has named a hall after Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, the former Comverse chairman and CEO who fled to Namibia in 2006 after being indicted on fraud charges in the United States. The Shaula and Kobi Alexander Center will be used by the museum’s education department and for projects with gifted students. In 2011, Alexander paid $53.6 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of options-backdating allegations. He still faces 35 criminal charges in the United States. Shaula Alexander-Yemini is Kobi’s sister, who founded the high-tech company Smartense. Museum CEO Ilan Cohen said the donation for the center was made by Alexander-Yemini at the museum’s request based on an agreement signed three years ago, and that the center’s name was approved by the museum’s board. The Alexanders donated 2.5 million shekels, while the municipality, which owns the museum, put in another 2.5 million to renovate the hall that now bears the Alexanders siblings’ name. The complex’s postal museum is named after the Alexanders’ father, Zvi Alexander. (Lior Dattel and
Nadan Feldman)

Gazit-Globe raises $107m in bond offering

Gazit-Globe, Israel’s largest real estate investment company, has raised 375 million shekels ($107 million) in a public offering of bonds, the company said on Sunday. The debentures bear annual interest of 5.35%, adjusted for the consumer price index, with a final maturity date of September 2024. The bonds have a domestic credit rating of “AA-” with a “stable” outlook from Standard & Poor’s Maalot and a rating of “Aa3” with a “stable” outlook from Midroog, the Israeli subsidiary of Moody’s Investors Service. The company said it will use the proceeds from the offering to refund existing debt and for general corporate purposes.

The Shaula and Kobi Alexander Center at the Eretz Israel Museum.Credit: Ofer Vaknin