One of Israel’s best-known billionaires, Moshe “Muzi” Wertheim, has passed away after a long illness at the age of 86.
Wertheim was the owner of Coca Cola Israel, — officially the Central Bottling Company Group — as well as the controlling shares in Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and several other important companies. He also served as the president of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, according to Bloomberg.
But Wertheim handed the reins of Coca Cola Israel over to his son David already in 2013, according to the Globes business news site. David Wertheim received 63 percent of the shares in the company, and his sister Drorit received 37 percent. David became chairman of the company and his sister became a company director. The change reportedly resulted in the resignation of company CEO Itzik Tamir, who had led the company for more than 30 years, but company president Ronnie Kobrovsky, Wertheim’s long-time partner, did not likewise abandon the firm.
Born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem, he fought in the War of Independence and served in the Mossad.
Wertheim was also a member of the first graduating class at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law before he became an attorney, with a Masters Degree in Law, majoring in accounting.
But at the end he built his empire from the business world, starting his career with the name “Avraham Feinberg” and founding the Central Bottling Company, today better known as Coca Cola Israel. According to Forbes, he slowly worked his way up the ladder, until he was able to finance his 2001 acquisition of the company with the dividends he had earned.
Coca Cola Israel subsidiaries include Pri Gat fruit juices, Neviot mineral water, Tal Dairy (and through that, Gilead Dairy and Tzuriel Farm Dairy), Tabor Winery, Maskar food vending machines and the Israel Beer Brewery (including the domestic distribution of Romania-produced Carlsberg, as well as Tuborg and Guiness), making it one of Israel’s leading employers with some 4,700 workers.
Wertheim also owned 51 percent of broadcaster Keshet, a franchisee of Channel 2, 23.1 percent of the Alony Hetz Property and Investments Ltd. firm and 22 percent of the shares in Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.
Boruch HaDayan HoEmes.Hana Levi Julian