Moshe Bareket Tapped as Phoenix's Next Chairman

After Delek Group CEO Asaf Bartfeld refused the honor of being appointed chairman of the Phoenix Holdings insurance company, it appears that Yitzhak Tshuva will be giving the nod to Moshe Bareket, barring any last-minute surprises.

Tshuva is the controlling shareholder of Delek, which controls Phoenix.

Ofer Vaknin

Bareket, who previously served as Corporation Division manager at the Israel Securities Authority, will be the likely replacement for Ehud Shapira, who stepped down last July after being appointed to Bank Leumi's board of directors.

Bartfeld has since filled in as temporary chairman and was offered the job on a permanent basis, but is giving it a pass. Moshe Amit, chairman of Delek Israel, had also been mentioned as a candidate.

Phoenix is considered one of Israel's two largest public funds managers, along with its subsidiary Excellence Investments. The Delek Group will now need to find a new chairman for Excellence also: Its founders Gil Deutsch and Aharon Biram stepped down as co-chairmen at the end of 2010.

Bareket, 45, joined the Delek Group in 2010 and was most recently appointed to its board of directors, as well as to those of Delek Energy Systems and Elad Europe. He is also the group's chief finance and strategy manager. He was Tshuva's financial advisor for Elad Canada's initial public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in August. That public offering would have landed with a big thud had Delek Group insiders and Tshuva's inner circle not come to the rescue.

Bareket's appointment would be a good fit among Tshuva's top brass, which has included former top-level bankers like Shapira, Shlomo Zohar and Avi Harel; well-connected former regulators like Lisa Haimovich and Moshe Tery; former top-level police officers like Gabriel Last and Moshe Karadi; and political insiders like Yoram Turbowicz.

As chairman Bareket will need to work closely with Eyal Lapidot, Phoenix's dominant CEO. After revolutionizing Delek Israel, Lapidot got the call to rescue Phoenix less than two years ago, finding a company entangled in losing investments, poor lending practices and inefficient management. With sweeping changes in manpower, strategy and investments, Lapidot managed to breathe new life into the stolid company. Phoenix has since regained some of its luster, grabbing the attention of Apax, DS Apex and others, but it is still far from realizing its full potential.