Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) chairman Dov Baharav has announced that he will step down in favor of private business. He notified the IAI board of directors and Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon of his decision a few days ago. He was appointed to the job two years ago by then Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz, succeeding Yair Shamir, who went into politics and now serves as Minister of Agriculture.
Baharav said that he decided to step down a year before the end of his term because he had completed the tasks set for him at IAI. Aides say that, in the past two years, he set his sights on restructuring the company, drew up a new strategic plan, and appointed top executives, including CEO Joseph Weiss to succeed Yitzhak Nissan.
However, the privatization of IAI, did not happen, even though then-Government Companies Authority director general Doron Cohen told "Globes" in an interview on the eve of Baharav appointment that it was intended to speed up the company's privatization.
IAI executives say that practical steps toward privatization have not been carried out, including substantive discussions which would indicate the seriousness of the move. Neither the Ministry of Finance nor the Ministry of Defense have shown much enthusiasm or determination on the matter, either. Shamir said, before he left IAI, that he could handle the company's privatization with the consent of its employees.
Sources at IAI said today that Baharav had amassed quite a few enemies during his tenure at the company over the changes he made in it. At least some of these enemies tried to blame him for the fizzling out of the privatization plan, and others claimed that he did not set his stamp on them. There were also claims about his lack of knowledge of the defense industry, in which he had no prior experience; he previously served as CEO of Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX).
In an interview with "Globes" six months ago, Baharav described the defense industry as slow because of the lack of transparency and the secrecy which enshrouds the business, compared with civilian high-tech companies, which achieve impressive technological breakthroughs.
Yaalon will shortly begin the search for Baharav's successor.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 4, 2013
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