As every month, VC Cafe is re-posting the “Invest in Israel” Newsletter, published by the investment promotion center of Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, which offers many helpful tools for prospecting investors. See the June 2011 edition after the jump. For previous editions, click here.
FITCH AFFIRMS ISRAEL AT “A” (OUTLOOK STABLE)
Fitch ratings affirmed Israel’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating (IDR) at “A” and local currency IDR at “A+” with a stable outlook.
“The affirmation reflects the resumption of the downward trend in public deficits and debt, the robust outlook for Israeli growth, and a strengthening in the sovereign’s external balance sheet,” said Purvi Harlalka, director at Fitch’s Middle East and Africa Sovereign Ratings Group.
The ratings agency noted that the improvement in public finances reflects both revenue growth as a result of buoyant output, as well as expenditure control, resulting from the adoption of new fiscal rules. Given that, the central government deficit fell to 3.8% of GDP in 2010 from 5.2% in 2009 and debt moderated to 76.6% of GDP from 79.3% in 2009.
Fitch also noted that the Israel market would likely benefit from recent substantial gas discoveries and a much lower level of unfunded pension liabilities than in other OECD countries.
GENERAL ELECTRIC BUILDING CLEANTECH R&D CENTER IN ISRAEL
General Electric will open a multidisciplinary R&D center in Israel, its eighth R&D center in the country, at an investment of $3-5 million. The R&D center, which will be located in Haifa, will engage in research in water technologies, renewable energy and medical devices.
“With the establishment of the new R&D center, we will be in a better position to build a close relationship with the Israeli technology community and identify new technologies that could become part of our portfolio,” said GE Global Research VP for Advanced Technologies Michael Idelchik.
The research team will focus on renewable energy, energy storage, smart grid, and energy efficiency technologies. It will also work on water monitoring, purification, wastewater treatment, brackish water and seawater desalination technology; and in healthcare, on non-invasive medical devices, advanced diagnostic tools, and medical navigation and guidance systems.
AT&T OPENS INTERNATIONAL INNOVATION CENTER IN ISRAEL
The Ra’anana center is the second permanent AT&T Foundry facility to open worldwide.
AT&T opened an AT&T Foundry innovation center in Ra’anana, Israel, in cooperation with Amdocs. The facility is a collaborative environment where AT&T and technology providers work with local start-ups and developers.
Projects at the Ra’anana center enable integrated mobile and wired broadband capabilities crossing multiple screens, including smartphones, PCs, televisions and emerging devices.
ISRAELI COWS OUTPERFORM FOREIGN COUNTERPARTS
A recent study by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics showed that Israeli cows produced an average of 10,208 kg (around 10,000 liters) of dairy per cow in 2009, outperforming cows worldwide. Cows in the US produced 9,331 kg per cow, in Japan they produced 7,497 kg, in the European Union 6,139 kg and in Australia 5,601 kg.
Israeli cows in 2010 produced a total of 1,304 million liters of milk, slightly higher than the previous year. There are some 125,000 dairy cows in Israel, and the average Israeli consumes about 45 gallons of dairy products a year.
DG FASTCHANNEL TO BUY ISRAEL’S MEDIAMIND
Advertising distribution company DG FastChannel Inc. will acquire MediaMind Technologies Inc. for about $418 million.
MediaMind president and CEO Gal Trifon noted that the acquisition by DG would provide the Israeli company with the added scale and resources to continue to grow its platform and enhance the services it provides its customers. Following the acquisition, Trifon will become DG’s chief digital officer.
Irving, Texas-based DG FastChannel, enables the electronic delivery of advertisements, syndicated programs, and video news releases to broadcasters, online publishers and other media outlets.
MediaMind operates in the fast-growing $71 billion global online advertising market, with 37 sales and representation offices covering 64 countries. In 2010, the company delivered campaigns for 9,000 brand owners using 3,800 media and creative agencies across 8,200 global web publishers in 64 countries.
AMDOCS TO AQCUIRE CANADIAN BRIDGEWATER
Billing software company Amdocs is acquiring Bridgewater Systems, a Canadian company that provides subscriber management and network control solutions for mobile and convergent service providers, for $215 million.
“As the market leader in customer experience systems, Amdocs has an excellent reputation for delivering tangible value to service providers worldwide,” Bridgewater president and CEO Ed Ogonek said. With the acquisition, Amdocs plans to expand its Customer Experience Systems (CES) portfolio
Israel-based Amdocs is a provider of software and services for communications, media and entertainment industry service providers. The Company develops, implements and manages software and services associated with business support systems (BSS) and operational support systems (OSS).
ARAVA POWER LAUNCHES ISRAEL’S FIRST SOLAR FIELD
Arava Power launched its first solar field in Israel, called Ketura Sun, in Kibbutz Ketura, located in the Arava desert in Israel’s southern-most point near the Red Sea.
The field, which cost about 100 million shekels ($29 million), is spread over approximately 20 acres of land and consists of 18,500 photovoltaic panels that were produced by China’s Suntech Power. In total, the panels are expected to produce about 9 million kilowatts per year, providing enough electricity annually for three average size kibbutzim or collective farms in the region. Arava’s solar power will be transferred to the national grid at a rate of 1.5 shekels ($0.44) per kilowatt-hour.
The array’s location in the southern Arava Valley guarantees more than 2,200 effective hours of sunlight a year and could save up to 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
BENETTON TO OPEN IN ISRAEL
Italian clothing retailer Benetton will open its first flagship store in Israel at a mall in the center of Tel Aviv. Benetton follows international fashion chains Gap and H&M, which opened several stores in Israel in recent years.
The franchisers are planning to open 10 stores of the Italian fashion brand in Israel, each of which will measure 200-500 square meters (2,153-5,382 square feet) in size, similar to Benetton’s stores worldwide.