NIMRODI


NIMRODI, family of Israeli press moguls. The family's financial empire ranges from the media to real estate and tourism. YAACOV NIMRODI (1926– ) was born in Baghdad. After the family immigrated to Palestine, Nimrodi and his nine siblings grew up in poverty, Nimrodi working as a gardener and ware-houseman. In 1948 he joined the Palmaḥ as an intelligence officer and subsequently worked in the Mossad. In 1956 he was appointed IDF military attaché and Israel Defense Ministry representative at the Israel Embassy in Teheran, in which role he was involved in large-scale arms sales to the Shah of Iran in the 1960s. After he left the IDF, he returned with his family to Teheran where he acted as a middleman in arms sales, including involvement in the so-called Irangate affair. Following the fall of the Shah he returned to Israel to pursue his business interests. In 1988, Nimrodi, worth an estimated $48 million, purchased the Israel Land Development Corporation (Hakhsharat ha-Yishuv) from the Jewish National Fund and Bank Leumi. Established in 1909 as the Palestine Land Development Company, the public corporation purchased and developed land for urban and agricultural settlement. The package which Nimrodi received for $26 million, included properties in prime areas like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Rishon le-Zion, and Beersheva, and hotels, private dwellings, and industrial holdings. Yaacov had one son, and three daughters. His son, OFER (1957– ), born in Teheran and a law graduate from Tel Aviv University, studied business management at Harvard University and in 1989 was appointed the company's managing director. Over the years, the company increased its profitability and moved into such other areas as the media and tourism. Yaacov's three daughters and their husbands filled various positions in the business empire.

In 1992 Yaacov Nimrodi purchased the shares of the *Maariv newspaper which had been owned by Robert *Maxwell until his death. Nimrodi subsequently sold 50 per cent of the shares, half to Haaretz publisher Amos *Schocken, and the other half to an Australian-Israeli consortium. Appointed by Yaacov the financially ailing newspaper's editor-in-chief, Ofer Nimrodi set for himself the goal of winning the circulation war with the highly successful *Yedioth Aharonoth. Ofer succeeded in reducing the circulation gap, partly by going down-market in editorial content and layout, but Maariv still lagged behind, with 23% of Israelis read the paper daily and 28% on weekends according to a 2005 Teleseker survey. IDLC earnings enabled Ofer Nimrodi to invest in the paper by purchasing new technologies and employing leading journalists. In the 1990s he established local newspapers in key cities–supplements added to Maariv's Friday weekend issue–tapping local advertising potential. The competition between Maariv and Yedioth Aharonoth reached a climax in the mid-1990s in the so-called wiretapping scandal, as a result of which Nimrodi was imprisoned in 1999 for tapping the phone of Yedioth Aharonoth publisher Arnon *Mozes as well as of Dov *Yudkovsky, who had been Maariv's editor under Maxwell. A Maariv investigative reporter, Amnon Abramovitch, resigned after discovering that his phone had also been tapped. In 1999 Ofer Nimrodi sold 25% of Maariv's stock to Vladimir *Gusinsky, a Russian businessman, for $85 million; majority control in the newspaper remained in Nimrodi's hands.

Nimrodi's other media-related interests included: magazines geared to youth; a TV guide (Ratings); shares in the Tel-Ad subsidiary of Channel 2 television (including studios), which Nimrodi subsequently sold; Maariv's publishing house (Sifriat Poalim); the Hed-Artzi music company; and interests in the cellular phone business. In 2004 he established the NRG Internet news website.

[Yoel Cohen (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.