Sunday, June 12, 2011
Jerusalem - Russian Fugitive Buys 20 Percent Of Israeli Daily Haaretz
Leonid Nevzlin, chairman of the board of trustees at Beit Hatfutsot - the Museum of the Jewish People - is joining Haaretz as a partner and will acquire 20 percent of the company's share capital valued at NIS 700 million after the money. All the funds will go into the company.
Nevzlin will join the firm's board of directors. After the investment the Schocken family will hold a 60 percent stake and the publishing company DuMont Schauberg of Cologne, Germany, will hold 20 percent.
The capital infusion strengthens the company financially and ensures Haaretz's ability to fulfill its role in Israeli society. It will enable Haaretz to invest in new technological opportunities.
"I am happy to join Haaretz," Nevzlin said. "I am convinced that together with the other board members of the company we will continue to develop the paper by further investments in the core activities and the digital sphere to the benefit of the readers and the advertisers in all platforms."
Nevzlin, 51, was among the young entrepreneurs in Russia who with Mikhail Khodorkovsky started a business in the late 1980s that culminated in the oil company Yukos.
In addition to his business activities, Nevzlin served in various public functions. He was deputy director of news service TASS and president of the Russian Jewish Congress. He was a central figure in the creation of the Center for Jewish Culture and of the Russian and East European Center for Jewish Studies in Moscow.
He also contributed to study programs on Jewish topics in collaboration with the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency. Nevzlin also served for a short period as a senator from Mordovia in the Russian Federation Council and as a rector of the Russian University for Human Studies.
When in 2003 the owners and top executives of Yukos, and the company itself, became targets for harassment and persecution by the Russian government, Nevzlin left Russia and immigrated to Israel. In 2008, he was accused and convicted in absentia of several cases of conspiring to murder.
The Russian government asked Israel to extradite him to Russia but the Israeli Justice Ministry determined that all the evidence against Nevzlin was invalid. The High Court of Justice addressed this and upheld the Justice Ministry decision. "These are hearsay testimonies that do not even justify the appeal to extradite Nevzlin," it said.
Nevzlin appealed to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming that the trial gravely violated his rights. A decision has not yet been handed down.
Since coming to Israel, Nevzlin has developed vast philanthropic activities focusing on research and the study of Jewish history and culture. In addition to his chairmanship of Beit Hatfutsot, he established the Nadav philanthropic fund and is a member of several bodies of the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. In Israel, Nevzlin has invested in real estate and in Israel Petrochemical Enterprises.
Nevzlin's lastest investment takes place five years after DuMont Schauberg joined Haaretz in a partnership that strengthened Haaretz considerably, both financially and at the board level, with an investor who has a keen interest in Israel's well-being. The head of the German company, Alfred Neven DuMont, has a special interest in backing Haaretz's editorial line.
Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken said the new investment follows a year-long period of acquaintance and discussions on the goals of the company and its shareholders. In the new partnership, Haaretz strengthens itself by gaining an investor and director who is an experienced businessman - one with a specific interest and track record in Judaism and education.