By Chris Kramer
Shari Arison, an Israeli-American whose net worth may be around $2.7 billion, is set to file for divorce from husband Ofer Glazer. The two had been married for six years, and given a number of high profile situations the surrounding the two, it could be speculated that the separation was not unforeseeable.
Arison is the owner of Bank Hapoalim, which is the world’s largest Israeli bank. Nationalized in 1983 following the Bank Stock Crisis, the Israeli government sold it back to a group of investors in 1996 headed by Shari’s father Ted Arison. The bank now features several international branches, including some in the United States (New York, Miami), Europe, Canada, and South American.
As of last year, the bank was in the news for offering 10 year loans for the installation of solar panels.
Hapoalim and the Bank of Israel (which serves as the central bank of Israel) are now reportedly involved in a dispute, as the Bank is currently demanding Hapoalim dismiss its chairman Danny Dankner. Dankner has been criticized for much of Hapoalim’s failed investments into mortgage-backed securities, which resulted in the large losses, and he has reportedly become involved in a mudslinging campaign with other top officials in his organization.
The Bank of Israel is meanwhile also investigating Arison’s husband Glazer because of a large loan he took out to ostensibly buy land from the Israel Lands Administration. This controversy may play only a minor role in the marital breakdown, given only a few months after Glazer married Arison in 2003 he was arrested and convicted of sexual assault. The crime was not perpetrated against his wife, but two other women for harassment and indecency. He served six months in prison in 2007.
Arison, as mentioned, is one of the richest individuals in the world. An article on MSN currently places her as the 234th richest person in the world. When Forbes documented the Middle East region’s 20 richest people in 2007, she was the only woman included on the list.
Arison is not exactly a stranger to controversy, even aside from her past divorces. Much of her wealth is inevitably inherited from her father, who bequeathed her 35% of his possessions. Thus, whether she is capable of the job or not, some are always likely to belittle her success as that of an heiress. This sentiment may have played into the harsh criticism she received in 2003 she was sharply criticized for firing over 900 workers from Bank Hapoalim.
Others were upset over a non-profit event Arison sponsored in March of this year, when Israel’s "Good Deeds Day" featured a Palestinian orchestra playing an hour-long concert in honor of Holocaust survivors. Even though they played classical Arabic songs of peace, the musicians were reportedly condemned as sympathizers upon their return to their home city of Jenin, and the band leader was barred from town.
With this controversy, the problems with her bank and divorce, Arison is sure to at least experience an eventful 2009.
Sources: Haaretz.com, NY Times, Bank Hapoalim site, Haaretz.com