Brothers Dan and Shmuel Topaz, founders and former controlling shareholders in Ham-Let (Israel-Canada) Ltd. (TASE: HAML), have expressed interest in acquiring Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) production facilities in Kiryat Shmona and Ashdod, called Teva Medical. The facilities, which manufacture medical equipment, have a joint total of 550 workers. No contact has yet been made with Teva, but the Topaz brothers are organizing an investors group, including an international company in the sector and other Israeli industrialists, to buy the facilities. It is believed that the deal will amount to hundreds of millions of shekels. Teva last week announced its intention to sell these plants as part of its major streamlining plan. Ham-Let, which the Topaz brothers sold to Discount Investment Corporation (TASE: DISI), and which was later sold to FIMI Opportunity Funds, produces connectors and valves for industry.
"We come from industry, we grew up in industry, and we built a model industry in Israel," Dan Topaz told "Globes" today. "What we see are the customers, work teams, and products. All the rest can be adapted to the size, environment, and location. On the subject of Teva Medical, I can say that attaining a status in which you are a supplier and manufacturer of such products takes many years of building your standing and reputation. I think that we have to make sure that real industrialists get these factories - and they will definitely make adjustments, but from the perspective of Israeli patriotism and industry without any feelings of inferiority. With all due respect to startups and bitcoin, industry is the economy's growth engine. I see here dedication and a real desire to bring the industrialists' DNA to the table. I have already begun to hear rumors that Teva's real estate in Kiryat Shmona is worth more than the factory, and I find that shocking."
"Globes": You spoke about an international company; will it be the controlling shareholder?
Dan Topaz: "We have a green light from the international company. I'm not saying that anything has been settled; there is still a long way to go, and it would not be right to make statements about Israeli control. This has to be done right. It has to be Israeli industry with strategic parties from overseas in order to export. We also brought serious strategic partners into Ham-Let at the time, and they did not receive a controlling share of the company. Control has to be in the hands of people who live and breathe where the industry is."
Which other industrialists are with you in the investors group you are forming?
"At present, by agreement, only our name is up front, but these are people from industry. We're willing to talk about this only because we are want to be sure that the workers, their representatives, and the people in government know that there are concerns interested, and that this story won't be ended among some clique. We want them to know that there is a serious group of industrialists that wants to continue this real activity." Topaz added that what was involved right now was a declaration of intent "in order to prevent any trigger-happy actions." He believes that if and when the investor group acquires the plants, it will be able to continue employing most of the workers.
You have not yet officially spoken with Teva, but it appears that Teva is eager to sell the assets. Do you think that the price will be attractive?
"The price has to be appropriate and right. My father taught me that only win-win is a winner. We're not looking for a quick profit by buying cheap and selling dear. This is an Israeli asset - a workplace with Israeli workers. If they want to sell, we're here. You don't close down assets like this - period."
What , if any, is your advantage in medical equipment and devices?
"We have a very great advantage in equipment. Medical equipment is a segment to which we have made sales. We had customers in the sector. But industry is industry, production lines are production lines, development is development, and customers are customers. We'll learn everything."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 19, 2017
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