Israel’s wealthiest man Idan Ofer set to move to London amid tax row



Israel’s wealthiest man is moving to London amid a row in the Jewish state over plans to squeeze more taxes out of the rich.

Idan Ofer, who is reported to be worth some $6.5bn, will join the increasing number expats in the capital who enjoy substantially lower charges on their wealth than they pay at home. The move is also likely to reignite a row over the lowering last week of the top rate of income tax.

Mr Ofer, a magnate whose business interests span energy, shipping and transport, is the head of Quantum Pacific Group which holds the Ofer family stake in Israel Corporation, the largest public holding company on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Like his similarly wealthy older brother, Eyal, Idan Ofer inherited his business acumen – and much of his wealth - from his father, Sammy, one of Israel’s most successful businessmen who died a couple of years ago.

The reasons for Mr Ofer’s decision to leave for what is likely to be one of London’s more leafy areas are multi-fold. Those close to the businessman point out that his mother lives in the capital and that his interests are international, but do not deny that Israel’s changing tax regime was a factor in the decision. Similarly, one of his sons, who has recently completed his Israeli national service is considering continuing his education in London.

‘Friends’ of the billionaire told the Financial Times that, “there are a number of family reasons which mean it makes sense for him to spend more time in London than he has previously and make that more of a base.”

The Israeli economy, which has been firing on all cylinders while others have been hit by the credit crunch in recent years, has itself shown recent signs of running out of steam. Street protests in Tel Aviv – including one where a man set himself alight – have demanded the cost of living for ordinary Israelis be reduced.

Israel’s new government – largely elected with a mandate to stem the burden on the middle classes – is expected to announce tax hikes soon. According to an editorial in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper last week, finance ministry experts are working out ways to raise an extra NIS 4bn, which would include hikes in corporation, income and capital gains tax as well as VAT.

Indeed, Mr Ofer himself became part of the election campaign when current opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich singled him out for particular criticism as a way of appealing to the middle classes. The ire focussed on Mr Ofer was perhaps slightly unfair, given that his brother has been a resident of Monaco for some time.

Finance Ministry officials, as well as those at the Israel tax authority, declined to comment on their plans, or on Mr Ofer’s decision to leave. At some level, Mr Ofer’s decision to leave will raise concerns among officials that tax hikes will drive away the rich, along with their cash.

Given his wealth – and the UK’s open arms approach to the super-rich – it is not hard to see why Mr Ofer is London bound. Fiscal reasons aside however, he already has close links to Britain through his father, who was awarded a honorary KBE for his work – and money – in helping to restore and promote the UK’s maritime heritage. The elder Mr Ofer handed over £20m to London’s National Maritime Museum in 2008, as part of the Greenwich museum’s £35m overhaul. Two years later, he contributed another £3.3m to help restore the fire damaged Cutty Sark.

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year