Monday, February 11, 2008

Blue I raising funds; company is leading developer of water quality control systems

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Shaked Global Group, the private equity firm of the Shaked family - the controlling shareholders of online gambling company 888 Holdings plc - has acquired the 20% stake of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in Blue I Technologies Ltd. This is the first investment in cleantech by Shaked Global Group, founded by Ohad Shaked. Blue I CEO Tsur Ben-David and Shaked Global Group CEO Shai Onn were not available for comment.

Kfar Saba-based Blue I develops real-time water quality control systems.

The sources added that Shaked Global Group will also participate in a $6 million funding round that Blue I is now holding from current shareholders. The company expects to close this round by the end of March at a company value of $16-20 million before money. The proceeds will be used to finance the company's newly launched platforms, including a comprehensive municipal network water quality control system. Blue I is reportedly about to install the first system in Barcelona.

After the financing round, Blue I plans to enter into a strategic partnership with large international water quality control systems makers. The company already supplies its systems to General Electric Company and Veolia Environnement SA.

Blue I has raised $7 million to date, including $2.7 million in its previous round in 2006, which was one of Israel's most significant cleantech investments that year. In addition to Shaked Global Group, Ben-David and Tene Investments each own 20% of Blue I, Blue Drink (European and Israeli angels led by Blue I chairman Ronen Melnick) owns 18%, and Docor International Management Ltd. and TN Ventures (a private fund owned by Tamar Naor) jointly own 15%. Company employees, including four in China and two in the US, own the rest.

Blue I's Israeli customers include Central Bottling Co. Ltd. (Coca-Cola Israel), Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), Mekorot National Water Company, and Oil Refineries Ltd. Foreign customers include Nestle, an Italian power station, Bayer, and hospitals in France.

In November 2007 it was reported that Blue I will supply real-time water quality control systems for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Market sources estimate Blue I's 2007 revenue at several million dollars. Under a strategic plan prepared by Ernst & Young, the company plans to grow by 80% this year and by more than 100% in 2009. Ernst & Young declined to respond to "Globes"' questions.

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