It was just a week ago that I sat in Raviv Zoller’s office at Ness Technologies (NASDAQ:NSTC) talking about all and sundry. No mention at all was made of his impending departure from the company that he helped found. Is there any significance to Zoller’s departure? Most certainly, since he was identified with the company to a large extent, and his decision to leave will not go down well with investors.
I sense that this was more than a mere parting of the ways, since Zoller is a young man who was in the middle of building a global system when he suddenly threw in the towel. There are those who claim that Zoller’s departure was connected to the Wolfson family, which is considering selling its holdings in Ness. After talking to Zoller it was clear to me that he is very ambitious and an excellent manager.
I asked him how he was coping with the competition from the giants in India and elsewhere. He explained why his company has advantages over the competition, as well as the reason for his recent acquisition of Spanish IT company Selesta Espana SAU. He talked like someone in the throes of planning a strategic move, so his departure is curious. His replacement, Sachi Gerlitz, is undoubtedly a talented manager -- he previously held a series of executive roles at Comverse Technology (NASDAQ:CMVT) and as a data expert appears to be a fitting choice for the job. However, as I see it, there is a connection between the selection of Gerlitz and Zoller’s decision to step down.
Gerlitz’s claim to fame stems from his role as partner at private equity group Apax Partners, whose main specialty is buying and selling companies. This raises the question as to whether this appointment signals something that Zoller opposed but which the shareholders supported. Either way, I still think that Ness is a good investment, and perhaps it’s now a good investment for the speculators among us too.
NSTC 1-yr chart:
Published originally by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2006. Republished on Seeking Alpha with full permission.