Good News Friday

Another week has rushed by and it’s time for another Good News Friday post.

Let’s start with some economic news for a change. This week the hi-tech giant Intel acquired the Israeli autonomous-car company Mobileye for a staggering $15 billion!

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has confirmed that it is acquiring Israeli vehicle safety and automation systems company Mobileye N.V. (NYSE: MBLY). Intel announced that it will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash – an equity value of about $15.3 billion and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion. The deal is the biggest ever exit in the history of Israeli industry.

Prof. Amnon Shashua, co-founder of Mobileye

Intel said that the acquisition of the Jerusalem based company will position it as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles. Intel estimates the vehicle systems, data and services market opportunity to be up to $70 billion by 2030.

Intel said that the acquisition will combine the best-in-class technologies from both companies, spanning connectivity, computer vision, data center, sensor fusion, high-performance computing, localization and mapping, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Together with partners and customers, Intel and Mobileye said they expect to deliver driving solutions that will transform the automotive industry.

The even better news is that Mobileye will be remaining in Israel and retaining its workers:

Intel added that the combined global autonomous driving organization, which will consist of Mobileye and Intel’s Automated Driving Group, will be headquartered in Israel and led by Prof. Amnon Shashua, Mobileye’s cofounder, chairman and CTO.

Mobileye has a long record of excellence in its field:

Mobileye was founded by Shashua and Aviram in 1999. The company initially developed camera-based technology for warning about road hazards and preventing collisions, which formed the basis for systems for driverless cars.

Mobileye’s anti-collision technology

Mobileye was floated on Wall Street in 2014 and currently has a market cap of some $10.5 billion. Its share price has shot up about 30% since first reports of the deal with Intel broke.

Kol hakavod to Intel for recognizing the advantages of acquiring Mobileye, and of course huge mazal tov to the founders of Mobileye and all its workers for bringing it to such a massive “exit”.

No Camels asks what was so special about Mobileye and answers its own question:

A developer of cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies – including pedestrian detection, collision warning systems, and others – Mobileye is now considered the leader in advanced driver assistance systems aimed to prevent road collisions.

According to Intel Israel‘s spokesman Guy Grimland, “Intel’s advanced computer chips are developed and manufactured in Israel; we also develop ultra-fast internet locally; our virtual reality revolution is happening here. And now, the autonomous car revolution will also take place here. The fact that all the hottest technologies are developed in Israel is a testament to Intel’s enormous appreciation of its Israeli branch. This makes me proud.”

Intel employs some 10,000 people locally, in manufacturing, research and development, and more. It’s one of the largest exporting companies in the Startup Nation.

According to Uzi Scheffer, General Manager of SOSA, which connects Israeli innovation to international corporations, Intel’s “historic purchase of an Israeli tech company… is further proof that forward-thinking corporations are willing to invest the money and resources needed when they find the right innovative technologies. After years of hard work, Mobileye is showing that staying the course and making the right connections are key to obtaining success.”

The success of the founders will now trickle down to Mobileye’s employees (many of who hold stock options), and even to Israeli citizens, through taxes. While the founders and employees are expected to earn billions from Monday’s acquisition, the State of Israel will also realize taxes of at least $1 billion, according to estimates.

This is really good news all round for everyone involved, including even the State itself.

Talking of the State of Israel, our economy grew by 4% in 2016:

Israel’s economy grew 4% in 2016, according to the second revision of GDP figures published today by the Central Bureau of Statistics. For the sake of comparison, GDP grew 3.2% in 2014 and 2.5% in 2015. Per capita GDP was up 2% in 2016, compared with 1.2% in 2014 and 0.5% in 2015.

According to the figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics during 2016, the current revision shows that private consumption, which rose 6.3% in 2016, was the main engine in GDP growth. Per capital private consumption was up 4.2% in 2016, after rising 2.3% in the two preceding years.

So much for all the doom-sayers predicting the end of Israel!

This improved economy and rise in revenue looks likely to bring about tax cuts! (Though don’t hold your breath waiting, just in case):

Updated budget performance figures published today by the Ministry of Finance show that state tax revenues jumped 10% in February, compared with February 2016. State tax revenues totaled NIS 51.8 billion in January-February, 6.4% more than in the corresponding period last year.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon

Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon promised at the beginning of the year that he would lower taxes again if tax revenue figures continue to exceed the forecasts. Ministry of Finance sources predicted that Kahlon would decide the matter according to the figures for the first quarter (as he did last year), and it therefore only remains to wait for the March figures. Kahlon plans to tackle income tax and VAT this time, after having cut VAT by 1% two years ago.

Now that would be excellent news!

One very important driver of the Israeli economy is its bio-medical industry. Yet another Israeli discovery is a drug to fight leukemia:

Sam Fields, a Jewish-American professional hockey player, was diagnosed with CML [myeloid leukemia] in 2003 at the age of 27.  At the time, his doctors told him he only had two weeks to live. “They gave me a death sentence,” Fields said in an interview.

Amazingly, Fields, who is now 40-years-old, has been cancer free for almost 15 years. He attributes his being alive today to Gleevec, a cancer drug which was still in an experimental phase in 2003 when he first started taking it, but which has now come full circle.

Dr. Brian Druker, who led the original clinical development of Gleevec, co-authored the worldwide study which included 1,106 participants at 177 cancer centers in more than 16 countries. The study, published in the March 9th edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Gleevec keeps chronic CML at bay a full decade into treatment — with no signs of additional safety risks.

Prof. Eli Canaani, discoverer of Gleevec

The story really begins  back in 2001, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) granted priority review for imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, as an oral therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML.

The nearly 11-year long follow-up study showed an estimated overall survival rate of 83.3 percent. According to the National Cancer Institute, prior to Gleevec’s 2001 FDA approval, fewer than 1 in 3 CML patients survived five years past diagnosis.

Gleevec was in fact invented in the 1990’s by biochemist Nicholas Lyndon, although it’s success is most often attributed to Dr. Druker, who pioneered its use for the treatment of CML.

But Druker’s work was built on groundbreaking scientific research carried out in the 1980’s by an Israeli researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Eli Canaani, working together with visiting American hematologist Robert Gale. At Canaani’s lab in Israel, he and Gale were the first to discover that when two key genes had a deviation in which they swapped pieces of genetic material, the result was a fused protein that triggered the cancer.

“If Dr. Brian Druker is the father of Gleevec, then Professor Eli Canaani is the grandfather,” Eric Heffler, national executive director of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, a charity that supports cancer research in Israel and funded Canaani’s research said.

Huge kudos and kol hakavod to Dr. Druker and especially to Prof. Eli Canaani for their discovery that has saved so many lives and will (please G-d) save many more.

And now one last heart-warming item for Shabbat. Today the Jerusalem Marathon took place, marking 50 years of the reunion of Jerusalem, and the severely wounded soldier Yehuda HaYisraeli, who is making a remarkable (though very long and arduous) recovery, took part in it:

The 2017 Jerusalem Marathon marks 50 years since the reunification of the capital and is the largest marathon to ever take place in the city, breaking records both in the numbers of Israeli and foreign participants with over 30,000 marathon runners.

Yehuda HaYisraeli (left) takes part in the Jerusalem Marathon (Screenshot )

Most notably among them is Olympic judoka medalist Ori Sasson who won the bronze medal in Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Also representing Israel at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan in judo in the +100 kg (+220 lbs.) category, Sasson won a silver medal for Israel in the inaugural European Games. In doing so he won the silver medal in the 2015 European Judo Championship. True to August 2016, he is rated third in the world for this weight.

Sasson’s name made international headlines during the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics when he defeated Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby in the first round. When the match concluded, Sasson tried to shake his opponent’s hand, but El Shahaby refused.

Ori Sasson ran together with Israel’s veteran hero, from Operation Tzuk Eitan, Yehuda Yitchak Hayisraeli, who was injured trying to save Hadar Goldin z’l. Yehuda’s comrades came out to join him and Ori in supporting Team Shalva.

Someone else who ran to support Team Shalva was my cousin’s grandson Moshe who flew in from Toronto only last night to participate in the 10 km run. Another cousin’s son, Matan, flew in from London to run 22 km (!!) which he succeeded in completing in 1 hour 48 minutes (!!) in support of Camp Simcha UK.

My nephew Nadav as well as my sister-in-law, her husband and two grandchildren took part in the 5 km “fun run” as well.

Kol hakavod to all these wonderful, energetic and public-minded youngsters (and not-so-youngsters) who took part in this great event to support Jerusalem and so many other important institutions.

May their efforts and their mitzvot be well-rewarded.

And with these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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3 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Pingback: Good News Friday – 24/6 Magazine

  2. Reality says:

    What an amazing post! But I must say the thought of driverless cars in such a hot headed place of driving like here in Israel, terrifies me!
    As for the tax cuts…well if it happens it”ll proove that miracles still happen here!
    As for the Gleevec drug that is trully wonderful news.
    Kol hakavod to all those athletes! I cant even run around the block!
    Also its lovely that double the amount of people came for the marathon from all around the world too.It puts Jerusalem firmer on Israels map….even if google sometimes removes it!

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you for the compliment. 🙂

      I think driverless cars are a brilliant idea for exactly that reason – it removes the “hot-headed Israeli driver” from the picture.

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