The Gift That Grows

The Gift That Grows

Get ready baseball card collectors, Israel Bonds is coming out with its own collectible collection — and it’s guaranteed to make money. Israel Bonds is reaching out to those who give bar and bat mitzvah gifts of $125 or $150 in checks and suggesting they instead buy its new $136 Chai Bonds. They mature in five years at a value of $180.
The president of Israel Bonds, Gideon Patt, said that unlike other bonds, which generally are stuck in a safety deposit box until maturity, a renowned Israeli artist, Orly Reshef, has specially designed the Chai Bonds. They come framed, ready to be hung on the child’s wall.
The artwork on each of the bonds will reflect an aspect of Israeli life — its high tech industry, housing, the Western Wall and other historic sites.
“In a short time, children will be competing with each other for the whole set,” said Patt. “I want the children to get it on their bar or bat mitzvah day and to then hang it on the wall to remember the day and the State of Israel.”
Irwin Hochberg, chairman of Israel Bonds, said the organization is seeking to “focus on the next generation, to link them with the Jewish homeland and to make them a partner in Israel’s future.”
Because the bonds, which became available this week, pay nearly 6 percent interest — compared to 4 percent on $500 bonds — an individual may buy only one bond per child.

Bank Leumi Earnings Soar
Bank Leumi USA, sparked by strong growth in its loan portfolio, announced a 53.2 percent increase in net earnings in 1998 over the previous year. The New York-based company recorded net earnings of $80.6 million for 1998.
Earnings in 1998 included a net tax benefit of $45.3 million. Pre-tax earnings for 1998 were $35.4 million, an increase of 20 percent over pre-tax earnings for 1997.
The results were adjusted to include the April 1998 reorganization of BLN Corp., an affiliated company, with Bank Leumi USA, under which BLN was liquidated and its $88.6 million of net assets — consisting mainly of performing loans and cash balances — were transferred to Bank Leumi USA.
On Dec. 17, Bank Leumi USA paid a dividend of $3.90 per share, or $50.5 million. Total cash dividends paid in 1998 were $75.6 million. As of Dec. 31, Bank Leumi USA had $3.3 billion in total assets.
“Our good performance in 1998, following our solid results for 1997 and 1996, reflects the soundness of our strategy and new business development programs,” said Dr. Zalman Segal, chief executive officer of Bank Leumi USA. The significant dividend payments for 1998 are an additional reflection of Bank Leumi USA’s strength
Sheraton Earns Israel Salute
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has won the Outstanding Tourist Industry Leader of the Jubilee Year award by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. The award recognizes tourism industry leaders who contributed to the development of tourism in Israel in its 50 years. Sheraton has seven hotels in Israel, with two more set to open this year. The hotel group also won the State of Israel’s 50th Anniversary Travel and Tourism Award.

WJC Calls On U.S. To Veto French Bank Merger
The World Jewish Congress said it would urge U.S. banking officials to oppose a French bank’s plan to acquire two rival banks. The Banque Nationale de Paris, which announced last week its planned $37 billion takeover of Societe Generale and Paribas to create the world’s largest bank, must do more to resolve Holocaust-era claims, the WJC said. While the merger would take place in Paris, it would need the authorization of American banking officials to take effect in the United States.
Another LeFrak In The Fold
Harrison LeFrak has been named president of Midstate Management, one of the largest management firms in the country. The Queens firm is a subsidiary of the Lefrak Organization, managing its worldwide real estate holdings.
LeFrak, 27, is the sixth generation to follow in the footsteps of a family of accomplished builders and developers. His father, Richard, is president of the Lefrak Organization; grandfather Samuel is chairman.

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