Wertheimer no longer the wealthiest Israeli

The highest ranking Israeli on Forbes' list is now nearly a $7 billion man.

Sami Ofer has passed Stef Wertheimer as Israel's wealthiest man. According to "Forbes" Billionaires List 2008, Samy Ofer's fortune totaled $6.7 billion, thanks to the success of holdings in Israel Corp. (TASE: ILCO) and its cash cow subsidiaries, Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL), Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE:ORL), and Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., which is set to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He is ranked 140th on the list of the world's billionaires. Ofer's fortune was estimated at $3.9 billion in the 2007 list.

Wertheimer took the number one ranking as the wealthiest Israeli last year from Shari Arison, the controlling shareholder in Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI; LSE:80OA), Housing and Construction Holding Co. Ltd. (Shikun u'Binui) (TASE: HUCN), Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE; LSE: CCL), and other companies.

Israel Chemicals doubled its market cap in 2007 to $18.7 billion. Zim is planning to raise $500 million at a company value of $1.2-1.5 billion, after money. Israel Corp. has a market cap of $8.6 billion; Ofer Brothers owns just over half the company. Ofer acquired the company from Irwin Eisenberg nine years ago in what has proved to be a very sagacious move.

Even at the age of 85, Sammy Ofer takes an active role in his companies, down to the nitty-gritty. He started out in the shipping business as a shipping agent in Haifa. He says, "I have achieved everything with my own two hands."

"Forbes" estimates Steff Wertheimer's fortune at $4.6 billion in 2008, $200 million more than in 2007. He is ranked 222nd on the 2008 list. He made the list after selling 80% of Iscar Ltd. to Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) for $4 billion.

The third Israeli on the "Forbes" list for 2008, and 227th worldwide, is Lev Leviev, the chairman of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL; Pink Sheets:AFIVY), with a fortune estimated at $4.5 billion, $400 million more than a year earlier.

Shari Arison is the fourth Israeli on the list, with an estimated fortune of $4.1 billion. She is followed by Benny Steinmetz, with $3.6 billion.

The "Forbes" 2008 billionaires list includes nine Israelis altogether.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 6, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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