TEL AVIV, July 25 (Reuters) - Intel Capital said on Wednesday it was expanding its operations in Israel as it seeks to boost its portfolio of Israeli technology companies and improve returns on its investments.
Intel's global investment arm has invested in more than 60 companies in Israel since 1996. It has had a number of successful exits including: Anobit, which was acquired by Apple ; Passave, acquired by PMC-Sierra ; and Gteko, bought by Microsoft, while Mellanox went public on Nasdaq.
Marcos Battisti, managing director of Intel Capital for Western Europe and Israel, said investment returns have been in the double digits the last five years.
"But it's not as good as it could have been," he told a news conference, saying returns in Israel lag those of the "high double digits" for Western Europe.
Battisti cited the lack of staff in Israel that could adequately seek out investments. The local office had just one person but Intel Capital has added two venture capital veterans.
"We realised we have missed opportunities here," Battisti said. So, "we will be more aggressive."
He said a key goal of Intel Capital is to lead investments in Israeli companies. Investments will be made at all stages and could be $100,000 at an early stage or $50 million in a more advanced stage.
Intel Capital typically invests $300-$500 million a year, although it reached $526 million in 2011. In 2012 Intel Capital has invested $198 million in 33 new deals - 56 percent of which were outside of North America.
Battisti declined to say whether any deals in Israel were imminent but Intel Capital has met several companies of late.
It was looking to invest in perceptional computing - the next generation user interface - communications, gaming, cloud, mobile ecosystem and consumer internet companies.
Intel, the world's No. 1 chipmaker, has four development centres in Israel and two plants, employing over 8,000 workers.