Is Keter Buffett's Next Israeli Target?

Will Keter Plastics be Warren Buffett's next Israeli purchase after Iscar? Keter could be appropriate for Buffet's business acquisition model, but its controlling owner, Sammy Sagol, is still not ready to sell - even if he is thinking about it.

Buffett surprised people this week when he said that not a single Israeli company had approached him after the Iscar deal. The impressive price he paid for Iscar - $4 billion in cash - generated an assumption that a lot of other Israeli companies were interested in pitching themselves to Buffett. But so far, no one else has jumped on the bandwagon.

A lot of Buffett's time was spent selling his own company, Berkshire Hathaway, in an effort to locate more Israeli firms up for sale. Buffett knows that he cannot pressure the sellers; he has to let the process take its time and wait until a company approaches him.

He also clearly explained what he is looking for: a big family firm whose owners love what they do rather than the money they make. Buffett promised such a firm a warm and loving home in Berkshire Hathaway.

Eitan Wertheimer, who sold Iscar to Buffett but is still managing it, said that Buffett, along with his partner Charlie Munger, run a boutique that chooses which companies to allow in very carefully.

The most obvious candidate for the next Israeli company to be sold to Buffett is Keter. Sagol's firm makes plastic products for the home and garden; it also owns companies that manufacture other plastic goods, such as sanitary pipes, around the world.

Keter started with a small plant in Jaffa and grew from there. Sagol has no heir in the next generation who is a candidate to take over the company, and in the past few years, he has started to think out loud about bringing in a partner to manage the firm after he retires.

Sagol had a chance to talk to Buffett and Munger this week, when he came to hear them at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. But for now, he has chosen not to approach them. It seems that he has yet to reach the stage that the Wertheimers already passed.

"I have a lot left to do at Keter before I make any move," said Sagol.