When Tshuva and Dankner Press the Button

Some Israeli businessmen have ventured abroad and made it into the big leagues. One of them is Yitzhak Tshuva.

Some Israeli businessmen have ventured abroad and made it into the big leagues. One of them is Yitzhak Tshuva, whom TheMarker crowned the most influential Israeli businessman earlier this year. Tshuva, who started as a medium-sized builder in the small coastal city of Netanya, is now a name not only in Tel Aviv, but in Manhattan - and Las Vegas. And next Monday night, anywhere from 100 to 200 television cameras will be trained on a certain spot in that desert mecca of gambling - the spot where Tshuva and fellow Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner will press a button. It is a button of destruction: The world will watch as the Frontier Hotel in Vegas, the oldest hotel on the Strip, implodes into rubble and dust.

It is an end. And it is a beginning. The end of the Frontier marks the start of the most ambitious project on which Tshuva and Dankner - neither exactly a nervous Nellie when it comes to taking risk - have ever embarked. The two are investing $7 billion in building a state-of-the-art, luxury casino-cum-hotel on the Strip. Their vision also includes 3,500 housing units, a shopping center and a luxury housing tower at the heart of Las Vegas.

Israeli planning may take forever, but Americans are something else and business in the United States can move fast. The extraordinary project in question began to take shape only about half a year ago, when Tshuva acquired the land on which the Pioneer squatted, shedding sequins, for $1.2 billion. Later he roped in Dankner as his partner, 50-50.

Tshuva is handling his part of the project through Elad, the privately owned company named after his son. His company Delek Group, which is publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, isn't involved. Dankner, on the other hand, is pursuing his dreams through IDB, also traded in Tel Aviv.

Even though the event is scheduled for Dankner's 52nd birthday, he isn't planning to make an especially extravagant party out of it. Top people from Elad and IDB have been invited, but that's all. And no, they aren't about to let the recent reports of falling real estate prices in Vegas sour their mood.

The timing of the event wasn't set by Dankner's PR people or wife, but by the Vegas municipality. That was the only day in November on which the blast that will demolish the Frontier could be permitted. Beforehand, though, the Israelis will be holding a reception for the city leaders and various persons connected with their business. They expect the governor of Nevada to attend, and some congressmen as well.