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Israel Billionaire Tshuva Strikes Gas, Fueling Energy Expansion

Isaac Tshuva uses sugar packets on a table in the lounge of his Leonardo City Tower Hotel in Tel Aviv to mark the spots of three natural-gas fields off Israel that he said will fuel global growth of his energy business.

The Israeli billionaire, owner of New York’s Plaza Hotel, said his Delek Group Ltd. and partners including Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. are now homing in on more deposits after last year announcing a record find in waters off Haifa, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its April 26 edition.

“The amounts we’ve found are going to provide much of Israel’s energy needs for the next two decades,” said Tshuva, 61, who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Netanya with 10 family members after immigrating from Libya in 1948.

Tshuva is expanding his business and this year offered to buy BP Plc’s gasoline stations in France, adding to outlets in the U.S., Israel and Europe. The discovery has also helped as he tries to keep alive a $5 billion project to put a Plaza Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, which stalled as the U.S. real estate market slumped in the recession.

The find was “game-changing,” said Arie Tal, chief strategist at Alumot-Sprint Investment House Ltd., which holds Delek shares among about 1.5 billion shekels ($382 million) of assets. “It transformed Delek, a company that was possibly facing a tough time refinancing its debt, to a company that now holds an asset that will generate billions of dollars.”


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