Another Bronfman Makes His Mark

By Nathaniel Popper

Published April 15, 2005, issue of April 15, 2005.

Adam Bronfman is not the only Bronfman busy making a name for himself these days. In the past three months, Adam’s older brother, Matthew, has acquired two major Israeli businesses, joined the leadership of the World Jewish Congress and gotten married.

The biggest headlines have been grabbed by Matthew’s successful bid for the Israeli franchise of the furniture store Ikea and his purchase of a 26% stake in Israel Discount Bank, Israel’s third largest bank, which was being sold as part of the Israeli government’s privatization plans.

Matthew teamed up with an ultra-Orthodox partner, Shalom Fischer, to buy the 75% share in Ikea’s Israeli franchise for $37 million — a deal that closed in late March. Currently there is one Ikea in Israel, with more on the way. For the stake in Discount Bank, he led a group that paid $300 million in January. According to the Israeli newspaper Globes, the Bronfman stake in Discount Bank is jointly owned by Matthew, Adam, their sister Holly and their father, Edgar Bronfman Sr.

The negotiations over the bank had to be delayed briefly for Matthew’s wedding in January to Stacey Kaye. After the purchases, The Jerusalem Post wrote that he “seems to be on an empire-building crusade in recent months.”

In the philanthropic world, Matthew, who lives in New York, is the past president of the 92nd Street Y. But his entry into the World Jewish Congress is his first major move into his father’s philanthropic territory. Edgar Bronfman Sr. has been president of the WJC for decades. Matthew joined the organization only in the last year. Matthew’s entry came as critics were blasting the WJC over a controversial bank account, and for being controlled too narrowly by Edgar Sr. and his deputy, Israel Singer. In the midst of a cleanup effort, Matthew was named to a newly formed finance committee in January.



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