Idan Ofer. 'Hostile atmosphere' driving him away?
Photo: Yaron Brener
Tired of criticism directed at tycoons? Yearning for a cooler weather, or perhaps just wishing to pay less tax? Idan Ofer, the richest Israeli in the world, is planning to relocate to London and move the majority of his business activity to the English capital.
Ofer, 57, has a fortune estimated at $6.5 billion. He is the controlling shareholder of Israel Corporation and one of the owners of the Better Place electric car venture. He also holds shipping and real estate companies.
Ofer is married with children and divides his time between his estate in the luxurious community of Arsuf, north of Tel Aviv, and a huge luxury apartment on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, which was purchased for NIS 67 million ($18.5 million). In addition, he already owns a luxury apartment in London and several other apartments around the world.
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Ofer, who is currently in Israel, refused to comment on his expected departure, but his associates said he would be moving abroad in light of the expansion of his business activities.
Some mentioned the recent "hostile atmosphere" among the Israeli public against tycoons, especially since the social protest, asserting that other multimillionaires were considering leaving for London, which grants tax benefits to billionaires in order to encourage them to invest their fortune in Britain.
One of the associates said bitterly, "Israel plays a two-faced game. On the one hand, the government encourages billionaires to invest in the country with tax benefits, while on the other hand people lash out at them and call on the government to impose much higher taxes on them."
One of Israel's wealthy men who has already moved to London is billionaire Lev Leviev.
If Ofer moves the center of his life to London (relocates with his family and stays for at least six months every year), he will pay 25-30% tax for his personal income (salaries, rent, etc.) compared to 50% in Israel. If he moves his companies to London as well, the tax he will pay for them will be just a bit lower than in Israel.
According to Ofer's associates, once he moves to London there was no doubt that his wife Batya and the rest of his family would join him. His mother, Aviva, has already moved there.
Gad Lior contributed to this report