New Finance Director-General Wields Impressive Assets

YERUSHALAYIM -

The new Finance Ministry Director-General, Yael Andorn, comes to her job with impressive credentials.

As CEO for seven years of Amitim, a company managing eight veteran pension funds with combined assets of over 160 billion shekels, she will not be awed by the 30 billion shekel budget deficit she will have to tackle.

In fact, Andorn, 42, is no stranger to the Ministry. She served for 12 years in its budget division, including a period from 2004 to 2006 as first deputy director of the division. And, as has been noted in media reports, she worked with then-Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his budget cuts, experience which should prepare her for the cuts coming in the new government.

“But the most interesting part of her career,” says Haaretz, “is when she was at Amitim, which under her management became one of the first big Israeli investors in foreign equities as part of the firm’s long-term investment strategy, which has since been adopted by other big companies. In addition, Andorn has sought to improve the transparency in the capital markets and corporate governance.”

At Amitim, her goal, as she explained to TheMarker in August 2008, was “to turn the capital market into a better place for minority small investors.”

She opposed corporate governance situations where the chairman and CEO of a company were the same person, and insisted on ceilings for share options programs for senior managers. Later, she established rules for corporate bailouts, such as requiring controlling shareholders to inject their own money into the failing company, stronger collateral, higher interest rates for creditors and other conditions.

Amitim’s position, outside of any business group, enables her to lead the fight for shareholder and creditor rights. “It’s the right thing for our members, and other groups will join us, slowly,” she said. “It’s a process that takes time, but every group that adopts these principles will help improve the capital market.”

Andorn also led a series of equity investments totaling over NIS 1.5 billion, including large investments in Azrieli Group, Bezeq and Route 6. In addition, Amitim took an active role in financing infrastructure projects like Dorad, OPC and Dalia Energy.

Andorn is currently a director on the boards of El Al Airlines and Oil Refineries Ltd. She will resign these positions when she moves back to the Finance Ministry, and recuse herself if any conflict-of-interest issues arise before her as director-general. For example, since her husband, Ofer Karnim, is the chief financial officer of the Dan bus cooperative, she will not take part in discussions on public transportation issues.