Kushner’s Affinity Partners to buy stake in Israel’s Shlomo car firm
Investment of $150 million by Saudi-backed private equity fund is Affinity's first in Israel amid continuing negotiations for Phoenix Insurance Agencies
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images
TEL AVIV, Israel – After two years of scouting, Jared Kushner’s Gulf-backed private equity fund, Affinity Partners, will make its first investment in Israel, buying a $150 million minority stake in the country’s largest car rental agency and affiliated businesses.
Miami-based Affinity agreed on Wednesday to acquire 15% of the automotive and credit unit of Shlomo Group, which is located south of Tel Aviv in Tzrifin. Shlomo is the Israeli partner of Germany’s Sixt, the No. 5 international car rental company. The Israeli firm has a fleet of 78,000 vehicles, along with leasing, sales and car financing divisions.
“We are bullish on the long-term growth prospects of Israel and the broader new Middle East,” Kushner said in a statement, calling Shlomo Group’s growth from a small agency 55 years ago to the industry leader, “rock-solid.” Kushner is the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump and was his adviser in the White House.
The fund, which was backed by $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and hundreds of millions from sovereign wealth funds in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar when it was established in 2021, did not seek permission from any of its partners to buy the stake in the Israeli company, a person familiar with the matter told The Circuit. The person asked not to be identified due to sensitivities.
Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have diplomatic ties, although they are engaged in U.S.-brokered talks to normalize their relations, as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco did through the Abraham Accords in 2020. Qatar also doesn’t have official relations with Israel.
Under the agreement, a new $1 billion subsidiary will be created that will operate Shlomo Group’s rental, sales and credit business, the statement said. Affinity, which has an option to buy an additional 3%, will appoint a director and an observer to the division’s board of directors. It also plans to “promote joint company transactions in the Middle East and North America.”
Affinity, meanwhile, is also in negotiations to buy a 25% stake in Phoenix Insurance Agencies, Israel’s largest insurer, after a deal for the parent company was dropped by Abu Dhabi’s ADQ investment fund, Israel’s Calcalist newspaper reported.
The fund founded by Kushner is one of several potential buyers for the insurance company. Phoenix Group, a wide-ranging financial services firm based in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim, was in talks to sell a controlling stake to ADQ in July. The deal would have been one of the largest between companies in the UAE and Israel, but the sale fell through due to regulatory hurdles, the sellers said in a July filing to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Affinity has reviewed requests for investment from more than 100 Israeli companies during the past two years, the person familiar with the matter said.