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August 23, 2016 / 19 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘billion’

Ahmadinejad Offers to Fix Bitter Past for Obama for Only $2 billion

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (ruled 2005 to 2013) has written outgoing US President Barack Obama that he still has time to “restore people’s rights” to the tune of $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets, Tasnim reported.

The Ahmadinejad letter was delivered to the White House through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, and posted by the website Dolatebahar.com, which is affiliated with Ahmadinejad.

After the traditional Islamic greeting of “As-salamun alaykum,” Ahmadinejad writes: “You took office as the president of the United States amidst a climax in global frustration… following several decades of hegemonic policies and behavior of consecutive US administrations. … Your campaign slogan was ‘change’ and you claimed to be determined to change those policies as well as behaviors.”

Ahmadinejad then describes the years of “oppression and cruelty by different American governments” against Iran, which merely held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, after taking over the US embassy in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad expresses his disappointment in Obama, who promised to restore ties with Iran, but has not, “and the same hostile policies along with the same trend of enmity were pursued, in alternative ways,” he complains, noting that Iran never received its much deserved “compensation for the past” during Obama’s term in office.

Now, here is what Ahmadinejad believes Obama should do to wipe the slate clean with the suffering Iranian people: last April, the US Supreme Court ruled that Iranian assets worth $2 billion be paid to the American families of victims killed in Iran’s military attacks in Beirut (1983) and Saudi Arabia (1996). But Ahmadinejad insists the ruling had been “based on unfounded claims without presenting any reliable documents, issued a sentence based on which about two billion Dollars of the Iranian nation’s assets would be seized unlawfully.”

“It is the clear expectation of the Iranian nation that the particular case of property seizure . . . be quickly fixed by your excellency and that not only the Iranian nation’s rights be restored and the seized property released and returned, but also the damage caused be fully compensated for,” says Ahmadinejad, concluding, “I passionately advise you not to let the historical defamation and bitter incident be recorded under your name.”

JNi.Media

Chinese Consortium to Buy Israeli Games Company Playtika for $4.4 Billion

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

A consortium including an affiliate of Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., one of China’s largest online games companies, announced on Saturday that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Caesars Interactive Entertainment to acquire CIE’s social and mobile games business Playtika in an all-cash deal for $4.4 billion.

Playtika, co-founded in 2010 by CEO Robert Antokol, pioneered free-to-play games on social networks and mobile platforms. It is the creator of such popular titles as Slotomania, House of Fun and Bingo Blitz, which rank among the top-grossing games on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Facebook. Playtika’s games are played daily by more than 6 million people in 190 countries, in 12 languages and on more than 10 platforms. Through its core technology and expertise in big data, analytics, and M&A, Playtika has successfully developed a scalable platform that is primed for future international expansion. Playtika is headquartered in Herzliya, Israel, with offices in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Japan, Romania, Ukraine and the US.

The Consortium includes Giant Investment (HK) Limited; Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd.; China Minsheng Trust Co., Ltd.; CDH China HF Holdings Company Limited; and Hony Capital Fund.

Following the transaction Playtika will continue to run independently with its headquarters remaining in Herzliya, Israel, and its existing management team will continue to run day-to-day operations.

“This transaction is a testament to Playtika’s unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world,” said Antokol. “We are incredibly excited by the commercial opportunities the Consortium will make available to us, particularly in its ability to provide us access to large and rapidly growing emerging markets. This is an amazing milestone for all Playtikans and we truly value how unique this opportunity is to continue executing our vision with such a strong partner.”

“Playtika’s growth has been exceptional, and highlights its outstanding team, excellent corporate culture, cutting-edge big data analytics, and its unique ability to transform and grow games,” said Giant’s founder and Chairman Shi Yuzhu. “We are looking forward to Playtika continuing to innovate and excel.”

“It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader,” said Caesars Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Mitch Garber. “Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users. Robert is a true visionary and Israeli business leader who has created not only a great business, but also the most unique corporate culture I have seen in my career.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2016.

CIE’s World Series of Poker and real-money online gaming businesses will not be included in the transaction, and the virtual currency used on the Playtika platform will continue not to be exchangeable for real money.

JNi.Media

$2.8 billion invested in Israel in first half of 2016

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

(Israel21C) The forecasts of wobbly world economies and an Israeli civilian workforce in need of more human resources did not stop the cash flow of investments into Israeli startups in the first half of 2016. In fact, Israeli high-tech capital raising reached an amazing $2.8 billion in the first six months of the year, according to a report by IVC Research Center.

Israeli technology companies raised an astonishing $1.7 billion in Q2/2016, in 187 financing deals. In Q1/2016, 174 Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.1 billion in private financing rounds.

“There’s no question that investors are still very confident in Israel. Good companies will always raise [money],” Amit Karp, a vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners and who focuses on investments in Israel and Europe, tells ISRAEL21c.

The 361 deals are 35 percent above the $2.1 billion raised in 327 deals in the first six months of 2015, according to the IVC Research Center.

According to the report, most of the money invested in the first months of the year went to life-sciences and software companies. There were also investments in communications, Internet, cleantech, semiconductors and other sectors.

“Despite the slowdown reported in high-tech capital raising and venture capital investments in the United States, and until now – despite various forecasts published lately regarding the industry in Israel – the results of the first quarter of 2016 indicate stability,” said Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, which analyzes and monitors Israel’s high-tech industry.

“All indicators point to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem that continues to mature and generate new companies. We are in the middle of the summer, and it seems that economic winter is not quite around the corner. Having said that, there is no doubt a significant portion of the growth capital recently raised was induced by the need to prepare for a rainy day,” said Ofer Sela, partner at KPMG Somekh Chaikin’s technology group.

Gett, Interlude, enSilo, Lumus and more

Gett (formerly GetTaxi) taxi-hailing app recorded the largest investment deal in the second quarter – a $300 million strategic investment by Volkswagen.

Among the other headline-grabbing investments so far this year are ridesharing app Via‘s $100 million Series C funding round by strategic investors from North America, Europe and Asia; Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “multi-million dollar investment” in Interlude media and technology startup; Trax Image Recognition‘s $40 million Series C funding round; content-marketing platform Yotpo‘s $22 million funding round; innovative marketing and loyalty platform AppCard‘s $20 million Series B funding round; and the Chinese-led $15 million investment in Lumus, a developer of high-end transparent near-to-eye displays for augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and smart eyewear.

Other big investments include a $9 million financing round for cybersecurity startup enSilo; United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB)’s $10 million in OurCrowd; $50 million in Series B funding for augmented-reality startup Meta; online assistance platform toolkit provider WalkMe‘s $50 million Series E funding; a $25 million investment round byEarlySense, a leader in contact-free continuous monitoring solutions; and storage startup Weka.IO’s VC-backed funding round worth $22.25 million, among many others.

The high-flying first half of year investment results are in part thanks to continued increase in deals above $20 million.

“The clear increase in large deals is driven by the enhanced activity of foreign investors – primarily corporate investors and VC funds – in growth-stage companies,” said Simana. “However, the increase is not limited to top-tier deals. We are also seeing an increase in low- to mid-range deals, with those between $5 million and $10 million jumping 50 percent, to a record $234 million. This across-the-board trend leads us to believe 2016 will continue to be strong in capital raising, with a projected 20 percent year-on-year increase, or about $5.3 billion in total to be raised by the end of the year.”

Viva Sarah Press

Qatar Shopping in Italy for $6.2 Billion Worth of Naval Defense

Friday, July 1st, 2016

MBDA Italia secured a contract to provide $1.1 billion worth of missiles for Qatar’s new naval vessels. These missiles include the Aster 30 Block 1, VL MICA air defense missiles and Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles.

A short while ago, Qatar agreed to a $5.1 billion purchase of seven naval vessels from Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard, which include four corvettes, one landing platform dock, and two offshore patrol vessels.

David Israel

Official: Water Crisis in Samaria Caused by Arabs Stealing 400 Million Gallons a Year

Friday, July 1st, 2016

On Thursday, during an emergency meeting on water shortages in Samaria in the office of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi), it was revealed that systematic water theft by Arabs, as well as dereliction of duty on the part of the Israeli water authorities, are to blame for the current crisis.

Over the past two weeks or so, the Jewish communities of eastern Samaria—Karney Shomron, Ariel, Kdumim—have been under emergency water procedure. These communities, with roughly 60,000 residents, experience interruption of their water service every few days, and it has been presumed that the shortages are due to the failure of the water authority to expand its infrastructure to match the Jewish and Arab population growth in Samaria.

On Monday, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) ordered Knesset Finance Committee management to freeze debates over budgets intended for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), including freezing its budget of about $20 million until the water crisis in Samaria is resolved.

Also on Monday, Yesha Council heads met with Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and presented alarming data on the absence of long-term infrastructure planning by the various government ministries throughout Judea and Samaria. Steinitz promised to take over the coordination of the different entities, including the Water Authority and the national water utility Mekorot.

The Thursday night meeting in Ben-Dahan’s office on the water shortage in Judea and Samaria (most acutely in Samaria) included representatives of COGAT, the Civil Administration, and the water Authority. During the meeting, Ben-Dahan stated that “for many years there has been neglect of everything having to do with the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, which resulted in the absence of promoting master plans to develop the water resources in the area. Unfortunately, none of the entities involved has been properly prepared to deal with the growth in both the Jewish and Palestinian populations, as well as the growth in agricultural land which require a great deal of water.”

“In addition,” Ben-Dahan stated, “there’s the phenomenon of water theft by the Palestinians in the amount of 5,000 cubic meters of water daily, a factor in the shortage of water.”

To illustrate, 5,000 cubic meters is the equivalent of 1,100,000 gallons a day. Over one year, water theft by Arabs in Judea and Samaria reaches a staggering 401,500,000 gallons.

The debate in Ben-Dahan’s office, reported by Srugim, resulted in short- and long-term solutions. Over the next few days there will be a regular rotation of 15 water trucks that will refill the reservoirs in communities where they have dried out. In addition, the entities involved will examine the possibility of constructing 27 above-ground pools to provide for locations where the crisis has been particularly acute. Existing pumping stations which have been left in disrepair in Ariel and additional locations will be repaired speedily.

In coming weeks, both Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan and Minister Steinitz will meet to plan the promotion of a master plan for the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.

Interestingly, not one word was said about ways of preventing the flagrant theft of water by Arabs.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian Authority side, the responsibility for the shortage is being placed squarely on Israel. In mid June, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that Israel was “waging a water war against the Palestinians. Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service, Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”

Ayman Rabi, executive director of the NGO Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera that “some areas had not received any water for more than 40 days. People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity. Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litters per capita per day.”

Mekorot denied cutting the water supplies, but admitted there was a reduction in water supply “as a result of the shortage of water supply.”

“We have made a broad reduction of the supply to all residents in the area,” Mekorot told Al Jazeera. “All the facilities are working and the capability to supply is less than the rate of consumption. The water authority recently approved a master plan for the water sector and accordingly we will build the systems that will meet the West Bank’s required consumption.”

Now, if only Mekorot had told Ministers Ben-Dahan and Steinitz about this new master plan, it would have saved everybody a lot of time.

JNi.Media

Seeking $25 Billion Iran Sale Boeing Kept Pro-Deal Advocate Pickering on Payroll

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

It can be safely said that Boeing is the biggest beneficiary of the Iran nuclear deal, as it is going to drink up about $25 billion of Iran’s thawed funds—released as a condition of the deal—in a sale involving 109 aircraft. On Thursday The Daily Beast revealed that Boeing worked hard for this money, paying off top talent to go public in support of embracing the Islamic Republic back into the family of civilized nations.

Career Ambassador Thomas Pickering, one of the highest ranking US Foreign Service employees, whose four decades in the foreign service included ambassadorship in Israel (1985–1988); Russia (1993–1996); and the United Nations (1989–1992); who served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1997 to 2000, was a shill for the aircraft manufacturer, quietly taking money from Boeing to use his reputation in strongly supporting the Iran nuclear deal: Pickering testified before Congress, wrote letters to high-level officials and op-eds for The Washington Post and other major publications, never disclosing the fact that he was on the Boeing payroll.

It should be noted that Pickering did not conceal the fact that he serves on the board of directors of the American Iranian Council, which is devoted to the normalization of relations between Iran and the US. He just didn’t want folks to know he was also pimping for Jumbo.

Neil Gordon, an investigator for Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog organization, told The Beast that Pickering “has a direct connection to Boeing,” and should have been honest about his work for Boeing when he testified before Congress on the deal. He could also mention it below those op-eds in major newspapers.

“I think it’s necessary for the public debate,” Gordon said. “It’s necessary for the public to fully realize the participants’ financial interests. Some of them might have a direct financial stake in a particular outcome.”

Boeing certainly had $25 billion worth of financial interest in the Iran nuclear agreement. With the deal Iran got its $100 billion plus interest that’s been frozen in US and world banks since 1979, and US companies could sell Iran their goods again. And one of Iran’s most burning need right off was updating its ancient fleet of passenger airplanes.

On June 19, 2014, Pickering testified before the House Armed Services Committee in favor of a comprehensive agreement with Iran, and did not mention Boeing in the disclosure form he handed the committee before his testimony. He also kept Boeing out of his bio that the House kept on file.

According to The Beast, Pickering confirmed to them via his Boeing corporate email address: “I was a Boeing employee from 1/2001 to 6/2006. I was a direct consultant to Boeing from 7/2006 until 12/2015 when‎ contract for consulting was moved to [Pickering’s company Hills & Company International Consultants] for my work.”

In September 2015, Congressman Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) issued a press release stating, “I spent hours discussing the matter with Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who served as US Ambassador to both Israel and Russia, and later to the United Nations. In no way does my support of the Iran Nuclear Agreement signify my trust in Iran, nor does it signal that I do not feel strongly about preserving and enhancing the US-Israel relationship.”

True, but it does signify Takai’s trust in Thomas Pickering’s integrity, which appears, in retrospect, foolish.

Pickering wrote a long op-ed for Tablet, the Jewish magazine for inquiring leftist minds, with the presumptuous headline, “A Guide for the Perplexed: The Iran Nuclear Agreement.” But nowhere under that clever homage to Maimonides superb book of philosophy did the ambassador mention how the deal benefits the Pickering bank account.

However, in that same Tablet article, Pickering wrote: “It is estimated that Iran will have access to $50 billion (all in foreign banks and all Iranian money) upon sanctions termination,” noting that “Opponents believe this can and will be used to support Iranian activities in the region favoring Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Assad regime in Syria among others,” and “Supporters argue that conclusion is far from certain. Iran has many very expensive priorities including repairing its oil-production base and stimulating its domestic economy.”

And buying $25 billion worth of Boeing aircraft, with a taste of that going to the corrupt career diplomat.

JNi.Media

New Legislation Would Free Up $1.5 Billion in Credit for Israeli Housing Starts

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Construction companies are no longer allowed to charge their customers fees for their own legal services, according to a key item in a new amendment to the Sales Law being promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Calcalist reported Thursday. Another significant change in the law would remove the requirement that contractors post a bank guarantee for the VAT portion of the cost of the apartment, and instead the state would set up a special fund to cover the buyers’ outlay. This would save contractors millions of dollars, releasing more than $1.5 billion in bank credit to the real estate market. The construction firm would still have to insure the rest of the buyer’s investment, in case said firm goes out of business.

The Housing Ministry, which began the move to amend the law nine months ago, is hoping the changes would pass by the end of the Knesset summer session in August. The move was spurred by the common understanding that the construction section of the current Sales Law is outdated, and has led real estate companies to develop their own ways of bypassing it, at the expense of their customers. The amendments were forged by an inter-office team that included Deputy Attorney General Erez Kamenetz, the Consumer Protection Authority, the Finance Ministry, and the Tax Authority.

“It is our responsibility to help the Israeli public get accessible housing, while legally protecting the buyers and maintaining fairness in all processes,” Minister of Housing Yoav Galant told Calcalist. One of the problems in the way housing business is done in Israel has to do with the buyer paying the contractor’s attorney for processing the new apartment at the Land Registry Office (the local word for the office is Tabu — no relation to taboos, the word is simply the Arabic mispronunciation of the Turkish word Tapu, or title-deed). A recent legislation limited the fees paid to said attorney to about $1,300, but even so, the clients may believe that by paying his fees the attorney is now working for them, which he certainly isn’t — he remains in the service of the contractor.

The Housing Ministry believes that registering the apartment and providing a legal deed is part of the overall product the contractor is expected to provide, and so they now want to go one step further and eliminate altogether the requirement for buyers to pay for this service.

There are other amendments which are not as crucial economically, but certainly add transparency to the process of buying an apartment in Israel. Companies would have to inform buyers of every change they intend to make in the original construction plan, for instance, if they want to add apartments. They also must inform buyers of changes in nearby lots, so that, if, for instance, their magical view of the Mediterranean would now be blocked by a 48-story tower, buyers would have the opportunity to get out of the deal and look elsewhere.

Contractors may no longer be permitted to sell apartments on land that is yet to be re-zoned for construction. If a plan for a new housing construction exists but the permit for building has yet to be issued, firms may sell units to buyers, but only with the proviso that the project is not yet legally authorized, providing the date for the expected authorization, and that buyers can get their money back in its entirety should the permit not be issued.

Also, any significant change in a purchased apartment’s layout, including in common areas such as storage spaces and lobbies, would be considered legally as failure to fulfill the contractor’s commitment and buyers may recoup their investment.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-legislation-would-free-up-1-5-billion-in-credit-for-israeli-housing-starts/2016/06/09/

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