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Economic News from Israel

  • Tel Aviv-based Gaia Real Estate Holdings and its US partner Starwood Capital Group bought 9,500 rental apartments across the US for $446 million.  They are located across the Sun Belt with the majority in Dallas and Phoenix and the rest in Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, Corpus Christi, Ft. Lauderdale, and Orlando.
  • Global Technology giant EMC Corporation has acquired Jerusalem-based XtremIO for $430 million.  This is EMC’s sixth acquisition in Israel and by far by the largest.  The exit is considered an exceptional success for Israel’s VC industry.
  • Bank Hapoalim has announced that it will invest in high-tech companies with a financial orientation — FinTech.  The venture will identify Israeli companies that will be able to carry out pilots at the bank, and the investments will be made by Poalim Capital Markets.
  • Delek US Holdings reported a near quadrupling of profit for the first quarter of 2012.  The Tel Aviv-based company’s US operation is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, and operates travel centers throughout the Southeast, an oil refinery in Texas, and an oil pipeline.  Net profit for the quarter was $46.2 million compared with $16.9 million in the corresponding quarter of 2011.
  • Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics has received a $3.1 million grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Industry Trade & Labor.  The grant will be used for R&D expenses including clinical trials to bring their placenta-based cell therapy technologies to the market.
  • The FDA has approved for marketing in the US the drug Elelyso, developed by Karmiel-based Protalix Biotherapeutics, for the treatment of Gaucher disease.  Following their approval, Protalix will receive a $25 million milestone payment from Pfizer which developed the treatment with the Israeli company.
  • Misgav-based PolyTouch has been acquired by US-based Covidien for $26 million.  A portfolio company of The Trendlines Group, PolyTouch developed a device for the precise and rapid deployment and placement of mesh during laparoscopic soft tissue repair procedures.
  • Rehovot-based Rosetta Green has signed a licensing agreement with Bayer CropScience for a joint genetic project that has the potential to provide drought tolerance and improved yield in cotton.  Bayer CropScience has its US headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
  • US healthcare investment management firm OrbiMed has announced the closing of its first investment fund dedicated to life sciences venture capital opportunities in Israel.  The $222 million fund includes an investment by the Israeli government for a reported $40 million.  OrbiMed has been an investor in Israel for the past decade including an early stage investment in Given Imaging which has its North American headquarters in Atlanta.
  • Intel has launched its 3G Ivy bridge processor, developed in Israel and the US, which is designed to offer substantially improved graphics and computer processing speed.  The processors will be imbedded in PCs and all-in-one models that are now being shipped to stores.
  • Israeli venture capital funds invested $190 million in Israeli companies during the first quarter, 10% less than the amount invested in the preceding quarter and 13% less than in the corresponding quarter according to a survey by the IVC Research Center and KPMG Somekh Chaikin Israel.  144 Israeli high-tech companies raised $483 million, down from $569 million raised by 124 companies in the preceding quarter but up just 0.8% from $479 million raised by 140 companies in the corresponding quarter of 2011.
  • Israel has one of the hottest real estate markets in the world according to a survey by CNBC that found house prices jumping by more than 21% in 2009 and 16% in 2010.  Israel was placed third with five-year growth of 54.5%, beating Singapore but well behind China and Hong Kong.
  • Israel’s unemployment rate rose to 6.9% in March compared with 6.5% in February according to the Central Bureau of Statistics Bank Leumi is projecting 7.5-8% unemployment in 2013.  44,300 new job opportunities opened in March.
  • Since the founding of Israel 64 years ago, Israel’s exports have grown by 15,000%.  In 1948, Israel exported $6 million worth of products, but by 2011, that number had jumped to about $90 billion.
  • Demand for high-tech engineers rose 15.5% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the preceding quarter according to a survey by Ethnosia Human Resources Ltd.  The hiring comes amid a good mood in the industry with exits totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • According to a survey financed by Google Israel, 64% of Israeli Internet users actively participate in social networks.  81.5% of Israelis over 12 years of age have Internet access, although only 70% of Israelis are active users.  Only 31% of Haredim are active Internet users.

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