Even before Intel’s record breaking, $15.3 billion acquisition of Mobileye NV this month, Israel’s economic wellbeing had been largely depending on the world’s largest chipmaker’s investments, according to a Bloomberg report published on Wednesday.
Bloomberg quotes economist Modi Shafrir from Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, who said that Israel’s 10-year high 6.5 percent fourth quarter expansion took place thanks to the $6 billion renovation of Intel’s plant in southern Israel. Intel is the biggest private employer in Israel – 10,000, followed by Teva with 7,000.
Also, according to Bloomberg, Intel exported $3.35 billion in products from Israel in 2016, accounting for about 10% of the country’s hi-tech exports.
It should be noted that Intel’s previous record in large acquisitions has been far from stellar, which suggests that the company has developed confidence in its Israeli operations. Early on, in 1999, Intel purchased DSP Communications for $1.6 billion, which it sold in 2006 to Marvell Technology Group for $600 million. It also regretted its $7.7 billion buy of McAfee, then dumped its 51% stake last year.
David Rosenberg, writing in Ha’aretz, lamented the sale of Mobileye to Intel, saying the enormous, all-cash investment is puny compared with how much the chipmaker will make on it eventually. “Ten years from now, when you’re tooling around in your car (or actually, being tooled around by your car), it will be Intel inside – not Mobileye,” Rosenberg wailed. “The $15.3 billion price tag Intel put on Mobileye is a lot of money, but Intel wouldn’t be paying it without being confident its investment will earn it a lot more over the years. Intel will be the one that owns the patents and makes and sells the chips − earning profits while employing many thousands and spreading those benefits throughout the U.S. economy.”