Israel's PM-designate Bennett Stands to Profit From Payoneer SPAC Merger

Omri Zerachovitz
Omri Zerachovitz
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Naftali Bennett as Cyota CEO in 2004.
Naftali Bennett as Cyota CEO in 2004.Credit: Nir Keidar
Omri Zerachovitz
Omri Zerachovitz

Naftali Bennett, who is on track to become Israel’s 13th prime minister on Sunday, owns shares in Israeli-U.S. fintech company Payoneer, which are expected to be worth a few million dollars following a merger announced earlier this year.

Bennett invested a few hundred thousand shekels in the company years ago.

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Payoneer, which provides solutions for transferring digital payments, announced four months ago that it would merge with the American special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp valued at $3.3 billion – for a post money valuation of $3.75 billion. SPACs are companies with no operations that raise capital as part of an initial public offering in the stock market, and at some stage they merge with a privately-owned company – usually as an alternative to more traditional IPO route.

As part of the merger, $1.05 billion will be invested in the SPAC, and $450 million of that amount will be used to buy shares from Payoneer’s existing stockholders. It is not yet known whether Bennett will decide to sell his shares as part of the deal, or continue to hold on to them – but in any case the value of his shares will remain the same.

Until going into politics a decade ago, Bennett was a high-tech entrepreneur and startup CEO. He made millions of dollars when two Israeli companies he worked with landed big exits: Cyota, which he co-founded and for which he served as the CEO, was sold to U.S. computer and network security company RSA for $145 million in 2005; and Soluto, where he served as CEO for a short time, was sold for $100 million in 2013.

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