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Steven Mnuchin, David Friedman visit Tel Aviv to check out startups

Mnuchin is setting up investment fund backed by Gulf states; during visit last week, the US visitors were hosted by investment firm Maverick Ventures Israel

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

Yaron Carni, fourth from left, David Friedman, center, and Steven Mnuchin, sixth from left, at the offices of Maverick Ventures Israel meeting with local entrepreneurs; June 17, 2021 (Michael Novoselov, Perimiter81)
Yaron Carni, fourth from left, David Friedman, center, and Steven Mnuchin, sixth from left, at the offices of Maverick Ventures Israel meeting with local entrepreneurs; June 17, 2021 (Michael Novoselov, Perimiter81)

Former US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman paid an under-the-radar visit to Tel Aviv last week and met with the heads of selected growth-stage startups to check out investment opportunities.

In February, the Washington Post reported that Mnuchin was planning to launch an investment fund that will be backed by sovereign wealth funds from the Gulf States. The fund will invest in financial technology and entertainment, among other sectors, the paper said.

Calcalist said Monday that Mnuchin and Friedman plan to set up an office in Tel Aviv for their Liberty Strategic fund, and will look for investment opportunities in areas such as cybersecurity, finance and network solutions. The fund is currently in the midst of fundraising, looking to receive billions of dollars in investment from Gulf nations and other investors, Calcalist said.

Mnuchin, Friedman and two senior advisers were hosted in Tel Aviv by Maverick Ventures Israel, and met with six growth-stage portfolio companies in the fields of fintech, utilities and cybersecurity. These included: SafeBreachSemperis, Rox FinancialSharegainUtilis, as well as Perimeter81.

Maverick Ventures Israel was founded in 2013 by Yaron Carni, and is run by managing partner Michel Abadi. The fund has close to $200 million in managed assets from private investors from around the world, and invests in companies in early growth stages. It has 36 companies in its portfolio.

Abadi said in a statement that Maverick was “honored to arrange the event. Our portfolio companies were thrilled to get the opportunity to present to such prominent investors and their entourage. There were meaningful discussions and potential synergies for continued cooperation and growth.”

Mnuchin served as treasury secretary under US President Donald Trump, from 2017 to 2021. Previously, Mnuchin worked as the chief information officer at Goldman Sachs, worked for and founded several hedge funds, and is a former film producer.

David Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer and was ambassador to Israel under Trump.

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