Plenus Venture Lending

, which specializes in bridge loans for startups, is taking over another lender,

Golden Gate Bridge Fund

, which belongs to Discount Capital Markets and the ForeSight consultancy.

The announcement was made by Ruth Simha, managing partner of Plenus.

This is the second merger in Israel's venture capital industry in the last week, after Neurone and Platinum venture capital funds announced their union. While each will retain its own incumbent portfolio companies, they will cooperate on a joint fund with some $110 million under management.

The funds' goal in the merger is to create a critical mass, in order to weather the hi-tech and venture investment slowdown.

Plenus, a member of the Dovrat group of companies, will manage Golden Gate's finances, Simha said, but will not be responsible for previous loans made by Golden Gate. Israel does not have room for two bridge financing companies, Simha added. One management company handling both can handle bigger venture lending deals than each could on its own.

Plenus was founded in September 2000 and began operations in early 2001. It has so far carried out 14 transactions worth a total of $50 million. Simha says that 70% of the money has been returned, leaving Plenus with cash to make new investments.

In June this year Plenus granted semiconductors company Wintegra $5 million in exchange for options, to help the company promote its $15 million mezzanine financing round by year-end 2002.

In March Plenus lent

Identify Software

, formerly known as Mutek, $5 million.

Golden Gate began operations in July 2000 after raising $8 million from Discount Capital Markets and ForeSight. Its loans range from $200,000 to a million dollars.