The Good Life of an Israeli Tycoon Mired in Debt

Nochi Dankner has a large home in a swanky neighborhood, a killer car and a private jet – and he’s insolvent.

When it comes to his businesses, Nochi Dankner doesn't have it easy. Bondholders are pressuring him, creditors are closing in, long-time partners such as the Livnat family and Avi Fischer are abandoning him, high-ranking managers are leaving and commenters on finance websites are skewering him. This is all rather unpleasant.

Dankner, however, a naturally optimistic person, seems to be handling the woes in stride.

He didn't even get upset, for example, about the enormous amount of money his companies, Ganden Holdings and Tomahawk Investments, owe to five different banks: NIS 450 million to Bank Leumi, NIS 100–150 million to Bank Hapoalim, NIS 100 million to Bank Discount, NIS 85 million to Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, and tens of thousands of shekels to the Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

Despite this, when it comes to his life, Dankner has it good. Real good. 

While wracking his brains to find a way to pay that huge debt, Dankner and his wife Orly continue to enjoy their luxurious home, designed by Alex Cohen, on 27 Shlomo Hamelech Street in Herzliya Pituah. The home boasts an 84 square-meter pool – the size of a typical three-room apartment – with a Jacuzzi. Insider, there are five bedrooms with bathrooms en suite, a 50-meter master bedroom with walk-in closet, kitchen, two dining rooms, a living room, a gym, an elevator, a family/TV room and a cellar. Outside the house is an English garden with a pond.

The area of the home itself is 930 square meters, including a garage that has room for two executive limousines and a boat. The property on which the home sits is 1,950 square meters – almost two dunams – in size.

Dankner bought the lots for building his home in early 1998 in three transactions, as indicated in the Tax Authority’s statistics, for about NIS 9.3 million. Real estate experts believe the land is now worth roughly NIS 25 to 30 million. Along with the house, the total property is valued at a cool NIS 35 to 40 million.

Jetting around the country on business, Dankner rides an Audi A8, Audi’s flagship model, a luxury limousine with engines up to 6.0 liters which runs about NIS 1 million. Accessories include a digital interface for operating the vehicle’s systems, heated seats that offer a massage and a wooden writing table. In Israel, only a few dozen of these toys are sold each year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also rides one. His is armored.

For longer trips, Dankner takes his private jet. The jet, a Bombardier Challenger 604, with a flight range of 7,400 kilometers, was bought third-hand by IDB Group in February 2008 for NIS 26 million. The 12-seater has taken Dankner and IDB’s senior managers on trips throughout the United States, Europe, India, the Far East and South America. Cost of travel? About $6,000 an hour. A round trip to the United States, therefore, runs about $50,000.

Although IDB’s aircraft was put up for sale several months ago, no official statement of its sale has been made.

David Bachar
Moran Mayan