Arison: It's Them, Not Us

Arison group tells committee discussing economic concentration in Israel the problem the Ofer and IDB groups.

The Arison group isn't the problem, the Ofer and IDB groups are, said - you guessed it - the Arison group to the committee discussing economic concentration in Israel.

"If there are concerns that corporate entities are accruing political and social power, the matter should be addressed through the large business groups - the Sami Ofer group and the IDB group - and not through groups that control both banks and non-financial businesses," wrote Menahem Pearlman on behalf of Shari Arison's group.

Shari Arison - Itzik Ben-Malki
Itzik Ben-Malki

The committee has recommended preventing one shareholder from controlling both a major financial business, such as a bank or insurance company, and a major non-financial business.

However, the Arison group's holdings, which include the controlling shares in Bank Hapoalim and construction company Shikun & Binui, are not large enough that the group would have to sell one.

Pearlman noted in his position paper that four of Israel's five banking groups are controlled by companies that own at least one major non-financial business too. If forced to separate the operations, they would have to sell off a large portion of their assets over a short period, and due to the limitations on cross-holdings, the only potential buyers would be foreigners, he said.

Others have argued that the companies could be sold to the public at large on the stock market, without the need for a single controlling shareholder.