Most of the tax on the $900 million sale of messaging app Viber to Japanese company Rakuten will be paid outside Israel. The Shabtai family through their company iMESH are the biggest winners from the exit. Brothers Benny and Gilad Shabtai and the latter’s son Ofer hold a 55.2% stake in Viber and can expect to earn $496 million from the sale.
The Shabtais are residents of the US. Benny began as a security officer in the Israeli embassy in Paris and made most of his money in the US importing Raymond Weil luxury Swiss watches. The family has made many successful investments in Israel over the years particularly in high-tech and the defense industry.
Viber has not raised money from venture capital funds and only $30 million was invested in the company bringing handsome returns to the owners. Other winners from the exit are Adv. Raphael Rebhan with a 12.5% stake through his US investment company IRS West. Viber’s CEO and founder Talmon Marco holds a 11.4% stake.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com