- WHILE an Israeli real estate
magnate from Australia insured his 99-year lease on the retail space of
the World Trade Center against terrorism, one of Israel's biggest companies
pulled out of the north tower just days before Sept. 11.
- AFP has learned from a reliable source in the shipping
industry that Zim American Israeli Shipping Co., Inc. broke the lease when
it vacated the rented offices on the 16th and 17th floors of the north
tower of the World Trade Center shortly before the Sept. 11 disaster.
- According to the source, Zim's WTC office space had been
leased until the end of the year and the company lost $50,000 when it suddenly
pulled out in the beginning of September.
- The parent company, Zim Israel Navigation Co., is nearly
half-owned by the state of Israel, the other half held by Israel Corp.
Zim is one of the world's largest container shipping companies, operating
an international network of shipping lines.
- AFP repeatedly contacted Zim American Israeli Shipping
Co., Inc. at its new American headquarters in Norfolk, Va., to inquire
about the company's pulling out of its WTC lease early.
- AFP was told that the only person who could discuss the
matter was the company president, Shaul Cohen-Mintz, who was said to be
unavailable until Dec. 4.
- AFP also contacted the Port Authority of New York and
New Jersey, the original owner of the World Trade Center, and was told
to contact Silverstein Properties, owner of the World Trade Center since
- Silverstein passes all media related questions to the
public relations company of Howard J. Rubenstein, which also represents
the state of Israel.
- Steve Solomon of Rubenstein told AFP that the company
"had no information on the leases" and advised AFP to contact
the tenant directly.
- Calls to Ezra Bentob of Zim's legal department were not
- An Israeli businessman from Australia, Frank Lowy, had
recently acquired the 99-year lease for the 425,000 square foot retail
portion of World Trade Center before the WTC attacks of Sept. 11, reported
The Jerusalem Post on Sept. 12.
- Lowy is chairman and founder of Westfield Holdings, and
the manager of Westfield America Trust, which has a 57 percent stake in
Westfield America Inc. In April 2001, Westfield America agreed to pay $400
million for the lease on the complex though only $133 million was paid;
the rest was to be made in ground lease payments.
- Lowy is the second wealthiest man in Australia and was
recently ranked as the 209th wealthiest man in the world by Forbes magazine.
Westfield is the fourth-largest shopping mall owner, with operations in
Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
- Westfield was insured against terrorist attacks and its
earnings will not be materially affected.
- In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange the retail
chain said that "investment in the retail component of the World Trade
Center is fully insured for both capital and loss of income," adding
"the insurance coverage includes acts of terrorism.