by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. Intel has announced a $4.5BN-$5BN expansion of its southern Israel plant (in Kiryat Gat) – which is one of the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing facilities – for the next three years, following a 2016-2017 $6BN upgrade of the same facility. The two rounds of investment are, probably, related to Intel’s March, 2017 $15.3BN acquisition of Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based developer of advanced vision and autonomous-driving assistance systems. Intel acquired eight Israeli companies.
Intel employs, in Israel, 11,000 persons (in addition to Mobileye’s 1,000 employees) in three research & development centers and one manufacturing plant, which exported $3.7BN in 2017 (before the current expansion). Since 1974, when Intel launched its Israeli operations, it invested $35BN in Israel, and exported $50BN from Israel.
Since 1998, “Intel Capital” has invested in 18 Israeli startups.
During the last decade, Intel’s total purchase of Israeli goods and services was $10BN (Globes Business Daily, February 19, 2018).
2. Israel has attracted over 300 global high tech companies due to its brain-power, which has been enhanced by a “do-or-die” state of mind - militarily, economically, educationally, agriculturally, irrigation-wise and balance of trade-wise, yielding game-changing, ground-breaking solutions and technologies.
3. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway expressed confidence in Israel’s (ailing-recovering) Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, buying 1.8% of its stock for $358MN, which surged Teva’s share price 8.64% on the NYSE (Globes, Feb. 15).
4. According to Bloomberg (Feb. 19), a 10 year, $15BN deal to export Israeli natural gas to Egypt is about to be concluded between Noble Energy and Delek Drilling, the exporters, and Dolphinus Holdings, the importer, enhancing the Egypt-Israel cooperation, and advancing Egypt’s ambition to become a regional energy hub. It follows the 2016, 15 year $10BN natural gas agreement with Jordan.
5. The February 9 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that Israeli startup companies had a record year in 2017, raising $5.2BN, 9% more than 2016, compared with $1.8BN in 2012 and $3.6BN in 2013. Charles and David Koch (Industries) led a $150MN round of private placement in Israel’s Insightec (medical equipment), investing $100MN (Globes, Feb. 5). Israel’s Sol Gel dermatology (non-antibiotic treatment of acne) and UroGen raised $75MN and $60MN, respectively, on NASDAQ (Globes, Feb. 2). Israel’s Tyto Care held a round of private placement, totaling $21MN, led by China’s Ping An Global Voyager Fund (Globes, January 30).
6. According to the 2018 OECD ranking of the 10 most educated countries – as far as adults completing tertiary education in the form of a 2-year degree, 4-year-degree of vocational program – Israel is the 3rd ranking country (49.9%), following Canada (56.27%) and Japan (50.50%), ahead of South Korea, Britain, the USA (45.67%), Australia, Finland, Norway and Luxembourg.
7. Standard & Poor international credit rating agency has reaffirmed Israel’s A+ credit rating and economic outlook, highlighting Israel’s sustained reduction of its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio (60%) and the estimated 3.1% economic growth during 2018-2021 (Israel Hayom, February 4). According to the Feb. 5 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Israel’s unemployment is 4.2%, a multi-decade low.
8. Israel’s $10BN Amdox (25,000 employees, 85 countries) acquired the L.A.-based Vubiquity for $224MN (Globes, February 1). Israel’s geothermal and recovered energy power plants giant, Ormat, acquired the Idaho-based, renewable energy US Geothermal for $110MN (Globes, January 26).