by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. According to the UN 2018 World Happiness Report (based on Gallup World Poll survey), Israel ranks 11th, as it was ranked in 2017, trailing Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. The ranking is based on life expectancy, income, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 89.8% of Israeli Jews and 80.7% of Israeli Arabs – age 20 and above – are satisfied/happy, while 85% of Israeli Jews and 89% of Israeli Arabs feel safe (The Marker, June 29, 2018).
2. Warren Buffett, the Chairman, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway: “I’ve lived through Israel’s entire 70-year history and I believe it is one of the most remarkable countries in the world…. It is a good thing for Israel that there is an America, and it is a good thing for America that there is an Israel…. (Jerusalem Post, June 14).”
3. The Germany-based Skion GmbH private investment bank led - along with Germany’sAltana - a $300MN round of investment in Israel’s Landa Digital (nanography) Printing. Both investors are owned by the $25BN net worth Susanne Klatten, Germany’s wealthiest woman. (Globes Business Daily, June 28).
4. The Dutch healthcare technology giant, Philips, acquired Israel’s cardiac imaging EPD Medical (image-guided procedures for heart rhythm disorders) for $292MN in cash in addition to $245MN in deferred milestone payments (Globes, June 7).
5. The Mountain View, California-based (FinTech) Intuit is expanding its Israel operation, hiring a few hundred more employees over the next three years, which will require $50MN annually. Intuit launched its Israel operation in 2014 upon acquiring Check for $360MN and then cyber technology Porticor for $10MN. Currently, Intuit explores the acquisition of a young artificial-intelligence Israeli company (Globes, June 27).
6. The France-based energy and automation giant, Schneider Electric – employing 170,000 persons in over 100 countries – will make a $25MN initial investment in 12 Israeli early-stage startups. Schneider Electric’s Chief Strategy Officer, Emmanuel Lagarrigue said: “In Israel, as in the Silicon Valley, companies like Intel, Amazon, Microsoft and Google are investing substantial amounts of money in their research & development.” Recently, Schneider invested in Israel’s Claroty (cyber technology), Atlantium and Nova Lumos (clean-tech). According to Lagarrigue, “What was amazing for me to discover is that the Israeli ecosystem is more lively and active than ever…. It has become far stronger thanks to specialization in fields like cyber security, in which Israelis are stronger than any other ecosystem, and to what is happening in the automotive industry, and the fact that the price of tomorrow’s car will be based on software, and this software will come from Israel. Israeli innovation complements what is being done in the Silicon Valley, which is in first place, and maybe also China’s Shenzhen…. One of the special things about the Israeli ecosystem is that there are entrepreneurs willing to solve tough problems that we are dealing with…. You find many Israeli entrepreneurs who tell us: ‘Give us a problem and we’ll solve it for you.’ This is an excellent starting point for cooperation” (Globes, June 21).
7. Israel’s Galmed – a fatty liver drug developer – raised $75MN on Nasdaq, underwritten by the Atlanta-based SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, the St. Louis, MO-based Stifel,the NYC-based Cantor Fitzgerlad, the St. Petersburg, FL-based Raymond James and the Newport Beach, CA-based Roth Capital Partners as chief-underwriters, in addition to the NYC-based Maxim Group and the NYC and New Orleans-based Seaport GlobalSecurities as secondary underwriters. (Globes, June 22).
8. Israel’s fintech (alternative business lending/investing technologies) BlueVine raised $60MN, led by Menlo Ventures, joined by Silicon Valley Bank, the Menlo Park-basedLightspeed Venture Partners, the London-based 83North Venture Capital, and Japan’s Rakuten (Globes, June 6).
9. The China-based Alibaba Group led a $26MN second-round of private placement in Israel’s (Graphic Processing Unit) SQream, joined by the Israel-based Hanaco Venture Capital, the Moscow and San Francisco-based Sistema Venture Capital, the NYC-basedWorld Trade Ventures, the Florida-based Paradiso Ventures, the China-Israel-basedGlory Ventures and the NY-based SilverTech Ventures. In addition, Alibaba signed a strategic agreement with SQream (Globes, May 31).