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Economic News from Israel

  • Bnei Atarot-based MyHeritage has made available the first online index search of 132 million people and 3.8 million scanned documents included in the 1940 Census, searchable in 38 languages and with a mobile search app being launched for iPhones, iPads, and Android SmartPhones.  While Ancestry.com and the Mormon Church are also providing search platforms for this census, the Israeli company was the first to upload the census data and the first to index it and analyze the handwritten documents to create a free search engine on the basis of names, not just general area of residence.
  • Tel Aviv-based RADVision has been acquired by New Jersey-based Avaya for $230 million.  Founded in 1992 by Zohar Zisapel, RADVision developed products and technologies for unified visual communications over IP and 3G networks.
  • Cisco Systems is acquiring NDS, with its R&D center in Har Hotzvim, Jerusalem for $5 billion.  NDS provides secure delivery solutions and other advanced interactive systems for digital and pay TV.  Cisco CEO John Chambers will visit Israel in June, and he hosted Israel’s President Shimon Peres during his Silicon Valley visit last month.
  • Intel Israel accounts for 40% of Intel Corporation’s revenue according to the company’s general manager, Maxine Fassberg.  Intel Israel will hire 600 employees in 2012 on top of the 7,800 employees currently and the 700 new employees hired in 2011 when exports totaled $2.2 billion.  Intel has invested $9.4 billion in Israel to-date with $1.3 billion in government grants.
  • Karmiel-based Opgal has been ranked the 2nd largest provider of thermal imaging cameras and one of only two security companies to increase market share in 2012 according to IMS Research.  The company acquired Atlanta-based Vumii in 2010.
  • As of June, the Israel Patent Authority will provide international search reports and international preliminary examination reports of PCT applications.  Initially, the service will be available to Israeli applicants, and will be charged at a lower rate then the rates charged by search and preliminary examination of PCT applications by the US Patent Office and the European Patent Office.  As a result, Israel has joined an elite group of 14 patent offices in the world, and currently files about 1,000 PCT applications per year.
  • Innovation Endeavors, a VC fund owned by Google chairman Eric Schmidt, was determined to be the most active venture capitalist in Israel in 2011 according to IVC Research Center.  The fund made eight first investments last year in Israel, and it was followed by Pitango, JVP, and Sequoyah Israel each with seven first investments and Giza and Bessemer with six investments.
  • A new neighborhood with 3,500 apartments has been approved in north Ra’anana by the Central Regional Planning & Building Commission, making it the largest project in the city in years.  A third of the units will be 3-room apartments of up to 85 square meters for affordable housing.  Ra’anana is Atlanta’s Sister City in Israel.
  • The state of South Carolina purchased a $5 million Israel Bond last month.  The sale was commemorated in a ceremony in Columbia by State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Israel Bond’s Southeast regional Executive Director Brad Young, and Columbia businessman John Baker who serves on Israel Bond’s national board.
  • Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has acquired a 7.4% stake in Beit Shemesh-based Vringo, developer of mobile video, personalization, and social-application platforms.  The company was led until last month by Jonathan Medved who will be the keynote speaker at AICC’s Eagle Star Awards Gala in June.
  • Bank Hapoalim has filed a $720 million lawsuit against Bank of America with the New York Supreme Court for alleged fraud and breach of contract.  The suit relates to the sale of $960 million in mortgage-backed securities to Bank Hapoalim.  The second plaintiff in the case is Principal Life Insurance which is seeking damages over its $239 million investment.
  • Israel’s unemployment rate was revised to 6.5% following admission by the Central Bureau of Statistics that its method for measuring unemployment is not the accepted methodology used by the OECD which the country joined in late 2010.  Previously, the unemployment rate was calculated at 5.4%.
  • Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world and ranks in fifth place among OECD countries with an average of 81.6 years, two years longer than the OECD average of 79.5 years.  The Israeli rate exceeds countries such as Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, and Canada.
  • According to the International Monetary Fund, the Israeli economy is expected to grow by 2.8% in 2012, lower than the Israel Treasury’s growth forecast of 3.2% and Bank of Israel’s forecast of 3.1%.  Israel’s GDP rose at a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.4% in the 4th quarter of 2011, the same growth rate as the preceding quarter according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
  • Tourism is at an all-time high in Israel with 752,000 tourists visiting Israel during the first quarter of 2012, 2% more than during the first quarter of 2011 and 1% more than the corresponding quarter of 2010, the previous all-time high.  One-day tourist entries rose 78% to 41,000 in March from 23,000 in March 2011.

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