China Lures Big Time Local Investors

Big opportunities in China continue to attract Israeli investors in spite of difficulties in generating significant profits. Lev Leviev, Yitzhak Tshuva, David Azrieli and Sami and Idan Ofer are all in various stages of investment in the developing power.

IDE Desalination Engineering is competing in multimillion dollar tenders for water desalination in China, said a source close to the company's activities in China. Israel Chemicals of the Israel Corporation group, which is controlled by Sami and Idan Ofer, and Tshuva's Delek jointly control the company. The Ofer brothers are considered two of the most active Israeli magnates in China, mainly in shipping. Zim, of the Israel Corporation group, also conducts extensive activity in China.

Africa Israel chair Leviev noted Sunday that he intended to enter the Chinese market. A source close to Africa Israel said Leviev is currently weighing an initial investment of about a billion dollars in construction of a complex that will include residential buildings, offices and shopping centers, based on experience he acquired in his Russian ventures.

Sources in the desalination sector noted that Azrieli group member Tambour Ecology is also competing Chinese desalination tenders.

Chinese law allows establishing wholly foreign owned companies, but most Israelis active in China prefer having a local partner who is familiar with the regulations, laws, and key figures. Experts on China recommend that such a partner be chosen carefully, and his interests closely examined, since these are often found to be different than those of an Israeli company, and limit expansion of activity.