By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. "Israelis are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average,” according to the OECD's (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) annual "Better Life Index.” Only Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland ranked ahead of 5th place Israel, among the 34 OECD members, as well as Brazil and Russia. The rating is based on 22 variables, such as education, health, life expectancy, average income, housing and general satisfaction. Israel's high ranking defies its geo-political neighborhood, but is a derivative of its inherent state of mind: optimism, patriotism, family and communal responsibility and attachment to roots (Israel 21st Century, June 10, 2015).
2. "Israel was rated by expats as the most dynamic country in the world,” according to "InterNations,” the largest network for people who work and live abroad (The Huffington Report, June 12, 2015).
3. The June 15, 2015 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit praises Israel's economic performance, expecting a 3.4% growth in 2015 and rising in 2016, declining unemployment [currently at 5%], steady inflation (1.3%), an export surge in 2015, a narrowing 2015 trade deficit and a 2019 trade surplus, larger natural gas production/export, robust private consumption and expanding current account surplus (3% of GDP in 2014, 5.2% - 2015 and 7.4% -2019).
4. The London and China-based $3bn private equity fund, XIO, acquired Israel's bio-med company, Lumenis, for $510mn (Globes, June 19, 2015). The Chinese investment giant, Fuson Group – which recently acquired Israel's Alma Lazarus for $240mn - is acquiring a controlling interest (52%) in Israel's insurance and investment group, Phoenix, for $470mn (Globes, June 22). On June 23, the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that these acquisitions followed in the footsteps of China's Bright Foodacquiring Israel's Tnuva, the Shanghai International Port Group winning a tender to operate Haifa's new port, the China Harbor Engineering winning the tender to build Ashdod's new port, and a joint venture between the China Railway Group and Israel's Solel Boneh winning an $800mn contract to develop the first segment of Tel Aviv's light rail network. Also, the value of high tech start up financing rounds, involving Chinese investors, tripled to $302mn during 2012-2014 and reached $117mn during the first four month of 2015.
5. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, praised Israel's technological initiative and creativity, stating that the Jewish State is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to startups (Bloomberg, June 9). Schmidt participated through is private equity fund, Innovation Endeavors, in a $15mn private placement in Israel's Yotpo. He was joined by Bloomberg Capital, Vintage Investment Partners, etc. (Globes, June 24). The US venture capital fund, Formation 8, joined by Samsung's and Qualcomm's VC funds, invested $10mn in Israel's Mantis Vision (Globes, June 5).
6. US giant, Computer Associates' (CA) 12th Israeli acquisition: IdmLogic for $20mn (Globes, June 9). British giant, Johnson Matthey Investments acquired Israel's StePac for $27mn (Globes, June 5).
7. Israel's SolarEdge raised $126mn on Wall Street. The total raised by Israeli companies during the first quarter of 2015 was $1.5bn, compared to $3.9bn during all of 2014 (Globes, March 30). The Silicon Valley Khosla Ventures, Bloomberg Capital and NyCa Investment Partners participated in a $40mn round by Israel's FundBox (The Marker, March 30). KKR's first investment in Israel: leading a $35mn round by Israel's ClickTale, joined by Europe's Amadeus Capital, Goldrock and Viola Credit(Globes, January 29). Israel's BioLine raised $25mn on NASDAQ (Globes, March 9). Fidelity Growth Partners led a $20mn round by Israel's AppsFlyer (Globes, January 21).
8. Lockheed-Martin, EMC, IBM, Oracle, eBay and Deutsche Telekom (the latter teamed up with Ben Gurion University) operate in the newly established cyber technology park in Beer Sheba, Israel (Wall Street Journal, June 5). Israel accounted for 10% ($6bn) of global cyber tech sales in 2014. Eight cyber Israeli companies were acquired for $700mn in 2014. The number of Israeli cyber companies doubled during the past five years (i24 News, May 26).
9. Israel and Italy established joint R&D labs, in Israel, in the areas of neurology, solar, outer space, cyber, water treatment and health sciences (Globes, March 3).
10. Britain's Secretary of State for Business and Innovations, Sajid Javid stated: "The past few years have been a golden era for Anglo-Israel business… expecting bilateral trade, currently valued at $6.9bnm to continue growing…. (Algemeiner, June 9, 2015).”