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Orthodox Jewish investor buys Israeli swimsuit company

November 2, 1997

JERUSALEM (AP) _ An Orthodox Jewish businessman who caused a furor by closing a new shopping mall on the Sabbath is buying a controlling interest in a major swimsuit concern.

But businessman Lev Leviev has no intention of forcing Gottex, a leading Israeli exporter of bikinis and other swimwear, to produce less revealing designs, spokeswoman Anat Weiss said Sunday.

``We are purchasing the shares in Gottex as a business investment and our intention is to develop the company, not restrict it,″ Weiss said.

Leviev’s Africa-Israel Investments, in which he bought a controlling interest earlier this year, is purchasing 80 percent of Gottex’s shares, she said.

An ultra-Orthodox Jew, Leviev caused a major controversy when he announced that the Ramat-Aviv shopping mall _ which Africa-Israel built in predominantly secular north Tel Aviv _ would be closed on the Jewish Sabbath. The move drew protests from secular residents and politicians.

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