Britain calls on Israel to invest in energy projects in the UK

Israeli business interest in the UK has risen in the 12 months since the Brexit vote, British Embassy says

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Attendees at the Energy Investor Forum in Israel organized by UK's Department for International Trade (DIT). Sept. 26, 2017 (Courtesy: Kobi Wolf)
Attendees at the Energy Investor Forum in Israel organized by UK's Department for International Trade (DIT). Sept. 26, 2017 (Courtesy: Kobi Wolf)

As Britain faces Brexit and the looming threat of financial institutions’s exit to other shores, its government is stepping up efforts to attract new investor interest, and is calling on Israeli financial institutions and companies to invest in hundreds of energy projects in the UK, with a focus on the clean-energy sector.

According to data provided by the British Embassy in Israel, there has been increased Israeli business interest in the UK since it voted to leave the European Union. In the 12 months since the referendum, June 2016 to June 2017, 32 Israeli companies have set up businesses in the UK, bringing further capital investment of £152 million, some $204 million, compared with 25 in the previous 12 months and a capital of £114m, an increase of 33 percent.

On Tuesday, UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) held, for the first time, an Energy Investor Forum in Israel. The gathering was attended by all major Israeli financial institutions and a number of British clean energy companies and government officials, who presented opportunities to invest in energy and infrastructure projects in the UK. Participants were welcomed by British ambassador David Quarrey at his residence in Ramat Gan.

During the event, Israel-based Helios Energy Investments, Phoenix Insurance Company and Meitav Dash Investments Ltd. said they will increase their investment in Bioenergy Infrastructure Group (BIG), which manages waste-to-energy projects in the UK, by NIS 110 million ($31.1 million).

The deal follows increased UK efforts to attract Israeli investments for hundreds of clean energy projects, the British Embassy said in a statement.

As a result of this investment, BIG will manage a portfolio of 22 clean energy facilities in the UK, treating over a million tons of waste and turning them into electricity and gas. BIG is owned jointly by three leading UK investment companies and Israeli Helios, Phoenix and investment management company Meitav Dash.

According to the British Embassy, the UK is “witnessing a huge increase in energy infrastructure investments,” and in the past three years alone, Israeli investors injected over £300 million into infrastructure projects in the UK. Britain believes it can boost these numbers by offering these investors a foothold in projects in clean energy, waste management, recycling and other environment-friendly sectors, the embassy said in a statement.

The BIG investment “is fantastic news for UK and Israeli businesses and as an international economic department, we are encouraging similar investments in the UK through the Energy Investor Forum,” said Barry Grossman, director of DIT Israel.

UK-Israel trade has grown in the last few years. In 2016, bilateral trade of goods reached a record level of $7.2 billion, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

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