Iscar Falling Behind Export Schedule Due to War

The war is making it difficult for Iscar, which was recently purchased by American billionaire Warren Buffett for $4 billion, to fill its export orders, according to sources in the north of the country.

Iscar's chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, who was at the company's Galilee factories yesterday, refused to comment on the report. Iscar President Jacob Harpaz said: "We are trying to do our best, we are doing as well as we can."

Iscar's plants in Tefen, in the western Galilee, were closed for three days due to heavy rocket fire in the area. The sources said that yesterday, nearly all the employees were back at work. But Iscar's foreign clients expect to receive their orders on time. "Our customers don't really care about what's happening here. None of them asks about the situation," Harpaz said yesterday.

Asked whether Buffett would be coming for a visit in September, as scheduled, Harpaz said: "We are focusing on much more important things. We are busy with work."

The Wertheimer Group includes Iscar, Blades Technology and Techjet. The sources said that between 60 and 80 percent of the work force has been showing up at Techjet every day, while attendance at Blades Technology is "partial."

Iscar is owned by Buffett. Blades Technology, which manufactures blades for engines, is owned by the American company Pratt & Whitney ?(50 percent?) and the Wertheimer family ?(50 percent?). Techjet, owned by Rolls-Royce and by Blades Technology ?(50 percent each?), makes components for Rolls-Royce engines.

A few days before fighting broke out on July 12, Buffett transfered $4 billion for his 80 percent stake in Iscar. A few days later, Wertheimer said that the Iscar plant was working as usual, and that Buffett had not asked him about the security situation and its implications for the company.

"Buffett invested in Iscar because of its financial results, and there is no reason for them to change," Wertheimer said. "We've gone through periods like this, and more difficult ones too. We are continuing to work as usual."