Tnuva and Strauss cottage cheese
Tnuva and Strauss cottage cheeseFlash 90

Israel is “selling itself off,” Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich said, criticizing a deal announced overnight Wednesday, in which a Chinese company is to buy a controlling stake in Israel's Tnuva dairy products company.

“What kind of normal country puts its food security in the hands of China?” asked Yachimovich.

According to reports late Wednesday, the controlling share of Tnuva has been sold to Chinese company Bright Food, which is to purchase a 56% share of the food giant. Although it operates in Israel, Tnuva has for the past six years been owned by a British investment firm, Apax Partners. Israeli farmers will retain their 21% stake in the company, at least for now, although Bright Foods is said to be seeking to buy this part of the company as well.

The terms of the deal were not announced, but it is doubtless worth billions of dollars. But for Yachimovich, the deal is something to mourn, not praise. “This is a perfect example of what is wrong with investments in Israel – it is an investment that will suck away our assets, not providing anything. Previously they sold the company to Apax Partners, and with it our patents, our agriculture, our industry, our land, and our Zionism.

“Now, after all those wonderful things were lost, Apax is packaging and delivering them to China. Israelis – consumers, manufacturers, and farmers – are the ones who will lose out,” she said.

The deal has been finalized, but not signed, she said – so there was still time to change things. “I appeal to everyone to join in our call for Tnuva to be turned into a public company with shares sold on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange,” Yachimovich said. “This way we, the Israeli people, will benefit, and not the Chinese government.”