Israeli billionaire at heart of Iran trade scandal Opher found dead
FT.com / Middle East & North Africa
FT.com / Middle East & North Africa - Israeli billionaire at heart of Iran trade scandal dies
Family empire-Born in Romania in 1922, Sammy Ofer moved with his family to British-controlled Palestine two years later. He grew up in the port city of Haifa, and went on to serve in the British navy in the Mediterranean during the second world war, and later in the Israeli navy.
Together with his younger brother, Yuli, Mr Ofer started to sell ship supplies in 1956, building the small family business into a vast international conglomerate.
Among the main assets controlled by the two men – either jointly or individually – were stakes in the Zim container shipping line, Israel Chemicals and Mizrahi Tefahot bank, as well as holdings in the real estate, semiconductor and refineries sector.
In recent years, the two men decided to separate most of their joint holdings and handed more and more operational control of their sprawling business empire to their offspring.
An intensely private man, Mr Ofer spent many years living outside Israel, keeping homes in Monte Carlo and London. In recent years, as his health deteriorated, he once again spent more time in Israel. He leaves behind his wife, two sons and eight grandchildren.