TEL AVIV, Israel ¿ The Ofer Brothers Group has earmarked $50 million for biotechnology investments through a new company called Ofer-Biotechnology. The Ofer family has invested $20 million in the new company and another $30 million has been raised from private investors.

Idan Ofer, chairman of Tel Aviv-based Israel Corp., a subsidiary of the Ofer Brothers Group, the country¿s third-largest holding company, said Ofer-Biotechnology has already made its first investment, $2.5 million, in Pharmos Ltd. Rehovot-based Pharmos, traded on Nasdaq as a $450 million company, is engaged in drug development with lead products being a medication for breast cancer, based on a modification of tamoxifen, and a cannabinoid derivative already in clinical trials to treat head injuries, with additional indications soon to follow. Ofer declined to specify at what price it acquired Pharmos¿ shares, which have seen an almost 700 percent increase over the past four months.

Mony Ben-Dor, deputy manager since 1997 of the Israel Corp., will head the new company.

¿This new avenue of investment will not come at the expense of other company investments in telecommunications and Internet-related companies. This is seen as a complementary track,¿ said Amalia Glaser of Rahva Communications, Israel Corp. spokesman for the new company. ¿They see biotechnology as a new investment horizon with a promising future, and are currently examining additional investments not only in Israel but all over the world.¿