American Investor Buys Israeli Company Iscar For $4 Billion

Warren Buffett:
‘The Israeli Management Team Was Enormously Important In My Decision’

Stef Wertheimer:
‘Israel Is On The Right Path And Creating Jobs & Exports’

Broadcast May 7th, 2006 on IsraCast.com

Warren Buffett

It is the biggest buy-out by a foreign investor in Israel’s history. None other than American tycoon Warren Buffett has paid $4 billion for an 80% share of Iscar, an Israeli company that produces blades and other equipment for industry. Buffett signed the deal in Omaha, Nebraska with Eitan Wertheimer, the son of Iscar’s founder Stef Wertheimer.

Listen to audio report with Buffett and Wertheimer


Iscar factory in Galilee

Warren Buffett’s $4 billion purchase of Iscar proves Israel is a high-tech powerhouse - that’s the reaction to the biggest buy-out in the country’s history.

Buffett, the richest investor in the world, has startled financial circles with his 80% buy-out of Iscar, a precision tools conglomerate operating out of Galilee. Not only that, but Buffett calls Israel a promising country for investors and he’ll visit this fall to check out other opportunities. Buffett says he’s always been pro-Israel and although he’s never visited, his wife has, many times. Why Iscar? The seventy-five year old tycoon said people were all important and he was enormously impressed by Iscar’s management.

Audio insert - Warren Buffett

At the same time, he promised that none of the two thousand Israeli employees would be fired:

Audio insert - Warren Buffett

Stef Wertheimer with Shimon Peres
(image: Isaac Harari)

Buffett signed the colossal deal with Eitan Wertheimer, the son of Iscar’s founder Stef Wertheimer. Eitan played down his becoming the richest person in Israel saying: ‘I can only eat one sandwich and sit on one chair. The money will be used to invest in more industry and do other good things for the country’. Eighty-year old Stef Wertheimer founded Iscar in a simple workshop in the Galilee town of Nahariya in 1952. He told IsraCast he never had a formal university education - he loved technology and would teach himself as he went along. In so doing, he became an expert in several fields. He still goes to work every day saying his key to success has been hard work and educating his work force to also adopt high standards of excellence. Stef Wertheimer was selected to light one of the beacons on Mount Herzel for this year’s Independence Day. He was chosen for his success in helping develop Galilee.

Audio insert - Stef Wertheimer

The Iscar sale will enrich Israel’s state coffers by a whopping $1 billion dollars, the tax fee to be paid by the Wertheimers. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could not have hoped for a better start. The Israeli stock market also soared by over two percent. The mythical Warren Buffett has endorsed Israel’s calling card as a top player on the high - tech stage of the world. More foreign investors are expected to take Buffett’s cue.

David Essing, ISRACAST, Jerusalem

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Transcription done by Yael Yaffe-Last
Studio Production by Avi Yaffe Jerusalem Recording Studios LTD.

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