Stef Wertheimer, who earned billions of dollars from selling his machine-tool company Iscar Blades, stands to make several-hundred million shekels more by selling his 51% holding in Blades Technology, an Israeli manufacturer of machine blades for aviation and other industries.
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Pratt & Whitney, the United States maker of aircraft engines and a joint venture partner in the company with Wertheimer and his family, is buying out the Wertheimer stake in the company, according to a letter Blades sent to its customers on Thursday.
Founded in 1968 to supply the Israel Air Force with spare parts, Blades Technology today manufactures 35% to 40% of the world’s compressor blades through a plant in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. The company also has facilities in the Galilee industrial park of Tefen, the U.S. state of Georgia and in China. It employs about 2,000 people in Israel alone.
Eight years ago, Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway bought an 80% stake in Iscar for $4 billion, marking the legendary U.S. investor’s first major acquisition outside the United States. The sale made Stef Wertheimer and his son, Eitan, the wealthiest family in Israel. Last May, Buffett bought the Wertheimer family’s remaining 20% of Iscar for $2 billion, reflecting a doubling in the company’s value since the first transaction.
Pratt & Whitney is one of the world’s three largest producers of airplane engines. Founded in 1925, it is a subsidiary of United Technologies, which also owns companies that manufacture a range of other products, including helicopters, elevators and air conditioners. Pratt & Whitney engines are used in about 40% of the world’s passenger aircraft. They are also used to equip military planes, including Israel Air Force jets.