The Application of Environmental Finance in the Israeli Setting:
The Yarqon River as a Case Study
This volume, the ninth in a series on aspects of privatization in Israel, focuses on ways to finance projects that improve the quality of life without dependence on public financing – specifically, the renewal of the Yarqon River in Tel Aviv and the economic development of adjacent areas. This volume presents the views of Israeli and international financial experts, officials of the Yarqon Authority and the Ministry of Environmental Quality, and experts in the fields of law and water management. The volume is based on discussions at a conference held in June 2002 sponsored by the Milken Institute and Tel Aviv University in cooperation with the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership.
Methods and Models of Privatization
On January 2, 2002, a closed roundtable for selected experts was held in Jerusalem on “Methods and Models of Privatization,” in cooperation with the Koret Foundation. Yaron Yakovs, Director of the Government Companies Authority and the individual in Israel in charge of privatization on a national scale, who also lectured in our September 2000 event, opened the forum with a general discussion of models and a review of future plans for large-scale privatization undertakings. Discussions of two major case studies followed: David Hermesh, Director General of El Al Israel Airlines, reviewed possible ways to privatize the national carrier. Yitzhak Klein, Director General of M.I. Holdings, who is in charge of privatizing the major banks in Israel, spoke of the possibilities in this realm. Prof. Ben-Zion Zilberfarb, academic coordinator of the Jerusalem Center’s Privatization Program and former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Finance, presented a comprehensive summary of the methods of privatization relevant for Israel.
Since the beginning of the privatization process in Israel (in 1985), a number of possible methods of privatization have been available, with two variations being dominant. The first and most popular is the sale of the entire enterprise to a private company or individual, which accounted for 45 percent of privatized companies during the period 1985-1997. The sale of a controlling interest in government companies was never done through the stock market. In some cases a minority stake was issued to the public, but the controlling interest was sold through private placement. No effort has been made to spread ownership among the public, as has been done successfully in Britain. Indeed, this is one of the central criticisms of the process of privatization in Israel. The workshop reviewed the various methods of privatization available, and considered a change of emphasis that may help to speed up the process. Indeed, the adoption of methods that allow for expanded ownership of privatized companies by the general public will help broaden public acceptance of the entire process.