Israel Military Industries Privatization Plan on Track

YERUSHALAYIM -

A privatization plan for the state-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI) is set to be launched, with approval from the board of directors and senior government officials already lined up, Globes reported on Sunday.

The plan calls for, among other things, the voluntary retirement of 950 of IMI’s 3,000 employees, at a cost previously estimated at 1.1 billion shekels.

In addition, the pensions of 1,050 employees will be guaranteed by an external NIS 830-million safety net, to be managed by a trustee.

An IMI board meeting will precede a meeting later this month of the ministerial privatization committee, chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon. Both are expected to approve the plan, which was reached in consultation with the employees and the Histadrut over the past year.

A new entity, to be called, appropriately, New IMI, will take over operations from the old IMI.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defense will establish a unit to protect the state’s interests in New IMI. The government will fix IMI’s capital structure, and IMI will vacate its site in Ramat Hasharon and transfer its operations to the Negev by 2020.

The Ramat Hasharon site has been contaminated by IMI’s operations over the years, and it will have to be decontaminated before rezoning for residences can take place.

The privatization plan also calls for the government to write off NIS 2 billion in IMI’s debts.

After the ministerial privatization committee approves the plan, it will be submitted to the Cabinet and the Knesset, after which a tender will be drawn up for the sale of the company.

A source close to the privatization recently said that the plan makes sense for the government.

“The cost of preparing the company for privatization is a fraction of the huge amounts that the government will make from the sale of IMI’s site in Ramat Hasharon, which is some of the most expensive land in Israel,” he said.