The Shekel Drops / The PR Moves of Halman-Aldubi

By 11 A.M. on Monday, just a few hours after the raid on the Gaza flotilla, the Halman-Aldubi investment house already had a response plan in place. The radio reports were still fuzzy on the casualty figures, but Halman-Aldubi had already announced that it was liquidating its Turkish investments.

The PR campaign was crowned a success when it turned out that Rony Halman - founder, partner and chairman of the company - had been the most heavily quoted and interviewed Israeli financial personality of the day.

Not wanting their move to be perceived as merely an emotional reaction, Halman-Aldubi's investment committee, which was convened almost as if it were the security detail of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, had to provide an economic rationale: "Turkey's anti-Israel stance is liable to lead to the nationalization of Israeli assets or investments and to put investors' money at risk. Turkey's abandonment of its efforts to join the European Union raise concerns that the transparency, integrity and procedural practice that characterized the Turks in their efforts to be admitted will be harmed."

But the small investor, it seems, might ask himself a few more questions. For example, how long could the discussion have lasted if by 11 an elaborate PR statement was already released? What, and who, was the basis of the decision? One might also recall what Halman-Aldubi tried to sell just a few days before, when something else captured the public's attention. "The vote at Bank Leumi is a real opportunity for institutional activism," said a statement explaining the firm's support for Israel (Izzy ) Tapoohi and Yoav Nardi as members of the bank's board of directors. Why Tapoohi? Maybe because he uses the same PR firm? And why is Halman-Aldubi only throwing its support behind two candidates, when the bank is replacing five directors?

Before our small investor can even say "institutional activism," he remembers another Halman-Aldubi announcement, made at the height of the gas exploration craze, about a new exploration partnership: "We are talking with investors and are in advanced negotiations for the purchase of concessions and are seriously considering offering [shares in] the partnership."

Let's hope Halman-Aldubi makes decisions only after sober consideration, and not out of public-relations considerations, the confused small investor says to himself.

And then he remembers that it has only been two years since his money took a little and not very successful trip to Icelandic government bonds, courtesy of Halman-Aldubi.