After some three years of effort, Merhav has made its mark in the Israeli marketplace.
The multinational group, controlled by businessman Yossi Maiman, is privately held and keeps its financial affairs highly secret. All its associates will say is that in the 27 years since Merhav's establishment, Maiman has built his wealth through a combination of daring and creativity that led him to high-risk central Asia and Latin America. Today the group has a finger in $3 billion worth of projects. It has the resources to achieve involvement of hundreds of millions in each.
Maiman was born in Germany in 1946. He grew up in Peru and achieved a Masters in economics at Ithaca's Cornell University. Later he came to Israel, worked for Mossad, quit that and established Merhav as an office-supplies leasing company. He began to offer financing services in South America, including international debt servicing using complex formulas.
Today, on top of serving as chairman of Merhav, Ampal-American Israel Corporation (Nasdaq:AMPL), and the Israel 10 Corporation (the designated operator of the Third Israeli TV Channel) - Maiman also serves as the honorary ambassador of oil refinery and as Peru's honorary consul in Israel. He is also considered a crony of Peru's president, Alejandro Toledo.
Merhav's business spans from China through Turkmenistan to Venezuela. Thegroup specializes in tailoring financing for major projects, some worth over a billion dollars. For Turkmenistan, for instance, a country devoid of credit arrangements, Merhav managed to obtain foreign-trade risk insurance from Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany and France for investments worth $1.5 billion. He also brought in multinational corporations to carry out the work. Merhav also invests itself in projects, from energy to petrochemicals to communications to hi-tech.