Bronfmans are back in Israel after nine years, this time as technology investors
After a nine-year absence, the Montreal-based private investment firm Claridge, the investment vehicle of the Charles Bronfman family, is returning to Israel - this time as a technology investor.

Now controlled by Stephen Bronfman, Charles' son and a Montreal resident, Claridge will be investing in Israel with Canadian investment manager Caisse through a joint venture called Claridge CDPQ Israel, Claridge and Caisse said Wednesday. They will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology and innovation sectors.

"We are putting in place the necessary infrastructure and capital to develop investment opportunities in technology companies with high growth potential that have succeeded in reaching the marketing stage," said Claridge CEO Pierre Boivin. "The partnership with La Caisse fits perfectly in our common strategic and patient investment philosophy."

Oded Tal, an attorney who worked as a senior manager at Claridge for eight years, will manage the Israeli operations for the new venture. He is expected to leave his current job as a vice president and head of mergers and acquisitions at Leumi Partners, the investment arm of Bank Leumi, and begin forming a management team shortly.

Other Bronfman relatives, most notably Matthew Bronfman, Steven's cousin, have investments in Israel, including a stake in the food retailer Supersol and the Israeli franchise of the Swedish furniture chain Ikea. Matthew Bronfman divested his controlling stake in Israel Discount Bank last year after holding it a decade.

Claridge exited the Israeli scene in 2006, when it sold control of the conglomerate Koor Industries to the IDB group, then controlled by Nochi Dankner. Outbidding Yitzhak Tshuva by $40 million, IDB paid $446 million for Claridge's 35.4% holding.

Claridge had been investing in Israel since the 1980s and had a good run buying and selling stakes in Teva Pharmaceuticals and Osem. But it lost more than 30% on its investment in Koor.

La Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, which is one of Canada's biggest institutional fund managers and has some $215 billion in assets, said it was teaming up with Claridge as the kind of local partner it is looking for as it establishes a presence in "high-growth countries."

"Our participation in Claridge CDPQ Israel gives la Caisse access to a globally-recognized hub for innovation. Such an environment will offer higher returns, greatly benefiting our depositors," said Andreas Beroutsos, Caisse's executive vice president of private equity and infrastructure.

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By Michael Rochvarger, Haaretz Contributor
Haaretz Israeli News