How Israel Chemicals Tried to Hide Nir Gilad's NIS 15 Million Bonus

What was Israel Chemicals' legal advisor Lisa Haimovitz doing at 9:10 A.M. Friday? Was she drinking cappuccino at a seaside cafe? Enjoying a mushroom omelet at a neighborhood bistro? Choosing a book to read on Shabbat? Having her car washed while on the way to the mall? Dropping off clothes at the dry cleaners?

None of the above.

At that very hour, when most of Israel's happy investors (after all, 2009 was a good year for their investment portfolios, and 2010 seems headed in the same direction) were busy making plans for one of the most relaxing weekends in decades, and their financial attentiveness was negligible, Haimovitz had to punch in at work.

She drove to Tel Aviv's Millennium Tower, parked in the underground garage, rode the elevator to the dimly lit offices of Israel Chemicals and launched the computer application for sending announcements to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Haimovitz, who had been senior legal advisor to Moshe Tery when he was chairman of the securities authority, went to her office on Friday morning only in order to send two notices to the bourse. The notices, totaling 33 pages, detailed the distribution of periodic bonuses to Israel Chemicals employees. Bonuses to directors, managers and executives were valued at NIS 204 million in all. They included NIS 20 million in options to CEO Akiva Moses and NIS 15 million to board chairman Nir Gilad. It is a bit outrageous that Gilad - the CEO of ICL's controlling shareholder, the Israel Corporation, and a senior partner to the disastrous strategic error at Israel Corp. subsidiary Zim Integrated Shipping Services - should be padding his personal bank account so quickly. Zim's debt arrangement scheme, the second largest in Israeli history, was signed by Gilad. It was necessitated in part by massive insider transactions between Zim and controlling shareholders the Ofer brothers (from whom Zim purchased ships costing billions of shekels).

Those transactions were approved by Gilad and by Zim's board of directors. A little less greed and a little more patience could have been expected from those who caused heavy losses to retirees after borrowing heavily from them (via the bonds purchased by the institutional investors managing the pension funds).