Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and former senior adviser of former US President Donald Trump, has made his first investment in Israel through his private equity firm Affinity Partners, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
According to a filing on Wednesday, Affinity Partners has agreed to buy a 15% stake in the car and credit division of Shlomo Holdings, an Israeli company that provides car rental, leasing, sales and financing services. The deal values the division at $1 billion and marks Affinity’s first foray into the Israeli market.
Affinity Partners was launched by Kushner earlier this year after he left the White House. The firm has raised over $3 billion, mainly from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The PIF did not require approval for the deal, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Kushner said he was optimistic about the growth prospects of Israel and the region, citing the recent normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab countries that were brokered by the Trump administration.
“We are bullish on the long-term growth prospects of Israel and the broader new Middle East,” Kushner said in a statement. “Shlomo’s historical growth has been rock solid, and the company has many exciting opportunities in its future.”
Shlomo Holdings is one of the largest car companies in Israel, with a fleet of over 100,000 vehicles and a network of branches across the country. The company also operates in Europe and Australia. The company’s founder and CEO, Shlomo Shmeltzer, said he was pleased to partner with Affinity and benefit from its expertise and connections.
“We are proud to welcome Affinity as a strategic partner in our car and credit division,” Shmeltzer said. “We believe that Affinity’s experience and network will help us grow our business and expand our reach in Israel and abroad.”
The investment comes amid a push by the Biden administration to persuade Saudi Arabia to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, following the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. Saudi Arabia has no official relations with Israel and has been reluctant to normalize ties without progress on the Palestinian issue.
However, Saudi Arabia and Israel have covertly cooperated on security and intelligence matters for years, especially regarding their common foe Iran. Kushner has developed a close relationship with Prince Mohammed and has reportedly maintained contact with him after leaving office.
Kushner’s firm is also in talks with another Israeli company, Phoenix Holdings, a financial services group that offers insurance, pensions and asset management. Affinity is interested in acquiring a stake in Phoenix after a deal with a consortium of Abu Dhabi funds fell through earlier this year.
Kushner’s involvement in Israeli businesses has raised ethical questions about his role in shaping US policy towards Israel and the Middle East during his tenure at the White House. He has also faced scrutiny over his ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have invested in his firm.