U.S. Billionaire Ron Lauder to Launch English-language Israeli News Site

The new website would present Israel's position to Jews around the world.

American businessman Ronald Lauder intends to acquire complete ownership of the Nana 10 website through his firm JCS, which operates Jerusalem Capital studios.

Along with several other American Jewish business figures Lauder also plans to establish a new website in English that would present Israel's position to Jews around the world.

Nana 10 features news from the Hebrew-language television network Channel 10, as well as a range of other information and entertainment content.

Since 2008, Nana 10 has been owned jointly by the mobile operator Cellcom and by Channel 10, a television station in which Lauder has a 24% interest.

Plans for acquiring full control of Nana 10 have been finalized and are reportedly expected to be consummated within weeks. However, Avi Balishnikov, chairman of the JCS Group and vice chairman of Channel 10, commented that from time to time, the JCS Group considers investments of one kind or another. "When we decide, we will advise," he said.

Lauder is considered a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a recent newspaper ad that he placed around the world, Lauder expressed support for the prime minister's policies, in contrast to criticism that he voiced about Netanyahu in the past. Lauder is also the president of the World Jewish Congress.

Nana 10 ranks 4th among Israeli websites in terms of the viewing exposure that it receives.

In recent months Cellcom - which also owns the Netvision communications and Internet service provider - has been trying to sell its interest in Nana 10, and contacted both the Mako website owned by Channel 2 franchisee Keshet and Yedioth Ahronoth's news site ynet. Nothing came of those efforts, however.

Relations between Cellcom, which is an IDB group subsidiary, and Channel 10 have been rocky for some time; the two sides have refused to infuse more funds into the Nana 10 site. After the failure of talks with Mako and ynet, Nana 10 CEO Guy Eliav convinced Lauder to acquire a full interest in the site, which is expected to continue to draw on content from Channel 10, but with possible input from other business operations involving Lauder.

Ronald Lauder
Ofer Vaknin