Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI Systems) is planning to advance the timetable for vacating some of the land it holds in Ramat Hasharon. The company will transfer 500 dunam (125 acres) to the Israel Land Authority (ILA) this year, sources inform "Globes."
IMI is due to submit a detailed plan for building production plants and the accompanying infrastructure on its new planned site in Ramat Beka in the Negev to the Southern District Planning and Building Commission in the Ministry of Internal Affairs planning and department. David Leffler heads the Planning and Building Commission. The new site, which covers 52,000 dunam (13,000 acres) is planned to contain innovative infrastructure, an advanced testing field for the company and other concerns for complex trials of weapons systems, production facilities for heavy munitions, shells, missiles, and rockets, facilities for upgrading armored fighting vehicles (AFVs), chemical and explosives laboratories, etc.
IMI told "Globes" today that the Negev site, to be one of the largest of its kind in Israel, will be built according to the most stringent safety and environmental standards and instructions. The company today predicted that the shortened timetable in this process would accommodate the beginning of its activity in the Negev in 2020, instead of in 2022, as stipulated in the previous government decision on the subject. Last week IMI chairman Yitzhak Aharonovich twice toured the area in Ramat Beka where the company will locate its new site.
According to Aharonovich, a recent appointment, thousands of apartments can be built in the area to be vacated in 2017 on the Ramat Hasharon site. "Rapid vacating of the land in Ramat Hasharon will shorten the timetable for the entire process and expedite IMI's move to the Negev," he said.
IMI noted that expediting the company's transfer from Ramat Hasharon to the Negev and shortening its timetable by two years was done, among other things, at the instruction of Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman. The company said that thousands of jobs would be created in the Negev through direct employment by IMI and indirectly in the company's various units.
Over the past year, IMI CEO Avi Felder and other company executives have already contacted institutions of higher learning in the south in an attempt to consider cooperation in training future employees to be employed in the new IMI facility. IMI currently has 1,000 employees on its Ramat Hasharon site, and company sources said several hundred of them would move to communities in the Negev, while other employees still living in the central and Hasharon regions would be provided with transportation to the new site.
The entire site in Ramat Hasharon, which currently houses IMI's production activity, can accommodate construction of some 40,000 housing units. The land was previously assessed at a NIS 30-40 billion value. The company said today that hundreds of dunam to be vacated and transferred to the ILA this year do not require large-scale purification operations for pollution caused by the decades of production activity on the site. IMI asserts that advanced technologies and methods developed in recent years make it possible to purify land at relatively low cost and on short timetables.
IMI is the midst of a privatization process led by the Government Companies Authority, but the process has ground to a halt, following criticism by the State Comptroller. The only company still in the running for acquiring IMI is Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT). In recent weeks, "Globes" reported that the State Comptroller had found a series of faults in the IMI privatization process.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 25, 2017
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