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Uzi Levy is the leading candidate for director general of the Prime Minister's Office. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Levy two weeks ago at the Prime Minister's Residence, seemingly in an attempt to keep the meeting secret. The present director general, Eyal Gabai, is leaving in a month. Levy started his career in the Finance Ministry's budgets division in the late 1980s, and moved to the private sector a decade ago. He worked for Bank Leumi for six years, and then worked for Yitzhak Tshuva and Nochi Dankner. "The prime minister is considering a number of candidates. No decision has yet been made," the PMO said in a statement. (Moti Bassok )

 

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided yesterday to postpone a decision for two months on a bill to block the retirement age for women from being raised. The postponement is intended to allow the state time to formulate a position on a public committee's recommendation to raise the retirement age for women from 62 to 67. The ministers discussed a bill by Kadima faction chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik to prevent the retirement age from being raised at all. While the proposal to raise the age to 67 requires Knesset approval, previous legislation would allow the age to be raised to 64 without further Knesset approval. A majority of Knesset members, from both coalition and opposition, have come out against raising the retirement age. But Knesset sources expect the age to rise to 64 in the end. (Zvi Zrahiya )

 

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries settled a lawsuit brought by Merck & Co by agreeing to hold off on sales of generic versions of cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia until 2017, according to court documents dated Thursday. Sales of the two drugs together amount to $4.3 billion a year: Vytorin, which racked up 2010 sales of $2 billion, combines Merck's older statin, Zocor, or simvastatin, with the newer cholesterol-fighter Zetia, or ezetimibe, which had sales last year of $2.3 billion. The agreement was filed in Federal Court in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday. Merck is continuing its legal action against Mylan, which is attacking the patents on the two drugs. (Reuters and Yoram Gabison )

 

Gal Hershkovitz will be the next budgets director in the Finance Ministry. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced the appointment yesterday. Hershkovitz, who has held a number of senior positions in the Egged bus cooperative in recent years, will replace Udi Nissan at the end of the month. The appointment still needs cabinet approval and Hershkovitz must also be approved by the committee that vets senior civil service appointments. Hershkovitz, 41, worked in the budgets division until 2002, when he left for the private sector. (Moti Bassok )

Next summer's school vacation would be shortened by five days, but students would get five extra days off during the coming school year, according to a change now being negotiated between the education and industry ministries and the teachers unions. A decision is expected within a few days. The Education Ministry wants to add five days of vacation to the coming year's schedule: three between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and one each at Hanukkah and Passover. Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar backed down from his decision to cut this summer's vacation short, but next year, the school year will probably start on August 26 instead of September 1. (Lior Dattel and Irit Rosenblum )

 

If you had tuned in to Radio 88 FM between 11 P.M. and 1 A.M. last night, you would have heard the dulcet tones of Shuki Oren, former accountant-general of the Finance Ministry - and no, he wasn't talking about domestic output or even treasury gossip. Oren is hosting a music program, and will be doing so every Sunday night. "No economics, no cottage cheese, not even Steinitz," he promised ahead of the show, referring to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. "Just good music, special and beautiful, what I like," he explains on a Facebook page. It turns out his dream hadn't been to be a top-ranking treasury official, though that's so common among teenage boys; no, he wanted to be a rock star. He confesses to a penchant for the soft side of hard rock. (Avi Bar-Eli )

 

The Dead Sea Works will end its controversial PR campaign to enlist public sympathy today. The $1.5 million campaign, to convince the public the company is not to blame for the dire state of the Dead Sea, will be removed from billboards, television and radio ads, newspapers and the Internet. The company says the move was planned and not a result of public pressure against the campaign. The company is planning a new campaign for the fall, which will probably focus on the Dead Sea Works contribution to employment in the Negev. (TheMarker )