The Strauss family has lost its 30-year control over its ice cream division, which holds a 47% stake of the Israeli market: Unilever used its option to purchase an additional 1% of the shares, thus gaining a 51% controlling position in Israel’s largest ice cream maker.

Five years ago Unilever purchased 50% of Strauss Ice Cream, with an option to purchase an additional 1% at the end of the five-year period. This purchase was made possible following the decision of the government’s anti trust director. The decision stipulates that following the take-over of Strauss’ Ice Cream by Unilever, the Strauss concern, which also owns Elite, the country’s second largest food company, will cut off any business relationships with the ice cream division.

The reason behind this limiting factor is Unilever’s purchase of Bestfoods, which owns Israel’s Tami Food Company. Tami manufactures chocolates, snacks, and confectionery, “in direct competition with Elite,” creating a possible conflict-of-interest in view of Unilever’s controlling stake at both Tami and Strauss Ice cream. However, the decision of the antitrust director claiming no conflict-of-interest, paved the way for Unilever to realise its option to, thus becoming the first international food concern to own the country’s leading ice cream company. Nestlé, which has a controlling share in Osem Food Industries, produces here its Motta ice cream lines, holding an estimated 33% of the ice cream market.

By Aaron Priel, correspondent

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