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Israel Investment News - September, 2006

WEF GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX: ISRAEL'S COMPETITIVENESS IMPROVES BY 8 PLACES OVER PREVIOUS YEAR (09/2006)

Israel ranked15th most competitive country in 2006-2007 report

The World Economic Forum published its yearly report in which it ranks Israel as one of the world’s most competitive economies, ahead of Canada, France and the Republic of Korea. Technological readiness saw the greatest improvement which leaped 20 places to rank 3rd in the world, while market efficiency increased by 7 places. Israel ranked 1st for availability of scientists and engineers an improvement of 3 places from the previous year and 2nd for venture capital availability. Israel ranked 7th in the world for innovation. Additional improvements were in macroeconomic management, market efficiency and various areas of infrastructure. Due to the large improvement in its overall ranking, Israel received a highlighted section in the report.

Chief Economist and director of the Global Competitiveness Network, Augusto Lopex-Claros, wrote in the report: "Israel has become a world technology powerhouse, and this is beginning to have favorable demonstration effect on the rest of the economy . . . Israel has benefited from the development of culture of innovation, supported by first-class institutions of higher education and scientific research."


WARREN BUFFET TOURS ISCAR PLANT FOLLOWING HIS $4 BILLION ACQUISITION OF THE COMPANY (09/2006)


MORGAN STANLEY PRAISES ISRAELI FISCAL MANAGEMENT AND THE RESILIENCE OF THE SHEKEL (09/2006)

"The shekel is still undervalued by about 30% against the currency basket"

On August 28, 2006, Morgan Stanley released a report on "The Incredible Shekel," stating that Israel's economy and its financial markets have shown remarkable endurance. The report discusses the prudent financial management and structural reforms which strengthened the Israeli economy and made its financial markets more resilient, even during a global economic slowdown and regional tensions.


WOLD BANK RANKED ISRAEL 5TH FOR BEST INVESTOR PROTECTION (09/2006)

Israel is ranked as the easiest country to do business with in the Middle East and North Africa

The World Bank report maintained Israel's overall ranking of 26 for its business environment, out of 175 countries. Israel ranked 7th for the ease of receiving credit, 13th for ease of trading across borders and 15th for ease of starting a business.


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL CATEGORIZES ISRAEL IN TOP 22% FOR ECONOMIC FREEDOM (09/2006)

Israel received a perfect score for monetary policy

Israel received an overall score of 2.36, meaning "mostly free" (1-2, being "free", 2-3 being "mostly free", 3-4 "mostly not free" and 4-5 "repressed.")The score was an improvement from last year, mainly due to a drop in customs duties. In the areas of trade policy and foreign investment policy, Israel scored 2 based on freedom for investors and equal terms for local and foreigners. Israel has consistently improved its ranking during the past decade.


SWISS PHARMACEUTICAL GIANT TO EXPAND ACTIVITIES IN ISRAEL (09/2006)

Serono seeking additional R&D investment in Israel

The company is currently constructing a new facility in Yavne, Israel which is expected to increase the recruitment of researchers. Giampiero De Luca, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at Serono said that the company's past investments in Israel created hundreds of millions of dollars in direct revenue and royalties mainly due to the sales of the Multiple Sclerosis drug, Rebif (Interferon). This announcement came at a conference on Swiss-Israeli collaboration in the Life Sciences industry held in Zurich on September 6th. The conference was organized by the Swiss Organisation for Facilitating Investments (SOFI) and Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Seventy five Swiss companies, funds and Investment institutions participated in the conference. The Israeli Life Sciences industry has seen strong growth this past year with pharmaceutical exports surging 60% to $1.4 billion in the first half of 2006.


LUCENT ACQUIRES HAIFA-BASED START-UP, MOBILTEC FOR $75 MILLION (09/2006)

Acquisition is Lucent's 4th investment in an Israeli company

Lucent Technologies announced its acquisition of Mobiltec, a provider of content management software for wireless service providers. The company plans to integrate Mobiltec's technologies to enable personalized content delivery and targeted advertising, strengthening Lucent's next-generation technologies and multimedia applications. Lucent is already heavily invested in Israel, having purchased 3 companies, incl. Chromatis, specializing in metro-optical networking, for $4.5B in 2000


MEDICAL DEVICES GIANT, MEDTRONICS, ACQUIRES ISRAELI START-UP ODIN (09/2006)

Gross price of the acquisition is $20 million

Medtronics acquired Odin Medical Technologies Ltd., a developer of MRI systems that improve the accuracy of brain surgery. The acquisition comes after a 2003 marketing agreement between the two companies, in which Medtronic was responsible for marketing Odin's products.


ORTHODONTIX AND ISRAELI PROTALIX ANNOUNCE MERGER AGREEMENT (09/2006)

An additional $15 million to be invested in Protalix, upon stock purchase agreement

Protalix is a biotechnology company that develops human protein therapies and has patented unique plant cell culture platform and bioreactor system. Dr. Philip Frost, one of the major stock holders of Orthodontix stated, "Based upon [Protalix's] unique capabilities to manufacture safe and efficacious recombinant proteins for a number of therapeutic areas, we expect that Protalix will establish itself over the coming years as an innovative leader in this area." Orthodontix will change its name to Protalix Biotherapeutics, Inc. Some therapeutic focus areas of Protalix are anti-cancer therapies and the treatment of Gaucher's disease.


SIEMENS SEEKING TO STRENGTHEN ITS COOPERATION AND ACTIVITY IN THE ISRAELI LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY (09/2006)

Siemens Group President of Medical Solutions: "We see Israel as a reservoir for specific innovation that can help Siemens to advance its competitiveness in the world."

During his visit to Israel to examine opportunities for R&D cooperation in Life Sciences, Professor Eric Reinhardt stated: "The creative and innovative forces in Israel are very impressive and we want to realize their potential. .. and cooperation with Israel can help our business throughout the entire world in innovative products with reduced costs." Two years ago, Siemens medical unit acquired Israeli CADVision, gaining access to its proprietary technology that identifies breast cancer on mammograms, and turned the company into its R&D center.


$20 MILLION DOLLAR GRANT APPROVED FOR JOINT US/ISRAEL RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS (09/2006)

$20 million in grants to be appropriated annually through 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an act that calls for cooperation of scientific know-how between Israel and the U.S. in order to seek new energy sources. Under the act scientists and engineers from both countries would focus on research, development and commercial use of renewable energy from solar, wind, hydrogen and bio-fuel sources.


TWO FOREIGN VENTURE CAPITAL COMPANIES TO INCREASE INVESTMENT IN ISRAEL (09/2006)

21 Ventures LLC to focus 80% of fund in Israel

21 Ventures, a New York based VC stated it will invest $15M over 18 months in Israeli start-ups. Founder and Managing Director, David Anthony stated, "21 Ventures sees a tremendous opportunity for investment in Israel's vast technology resources, specifically their startups." 21 Ventures currently has 3 portfolios in Israel and 8 in the U.S. Index Ventures, a pan-European venture capital, is planning on making 2-3 investments in Israeli companies each year. Index Ventures stated that their main investments will be in Information Technology and life sciences.

Source: Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor - The Investment Promotion Center


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