Business in Brief: Palestinian Stock Exchange Joins FTSE Russell Global Frontier Index

Insurance commissioner rejects compromise on Clal Insurance share sale; Matomy posts loss as revenue slips and R&D spending grows; Shares quiet ahead of Fed rate decision.

An investor watches the screen at a brokerage house in Fuyang, central China.AP

Insurance commissioner rejects compromise on Clal Insurance share sale

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Ruth Ronen failed yesterday to find a compromise between IDB Development Corporation and Dorit Salinger, the Finance Ministry commissioner for capital markets, insurance and savings, over Salinger’s orders for the holding company to sell off its controlling stake in Clal Insurance. Salinger has denied IDB an insurance license, forcing it to put its Clal shares under the control of a trustee and ordering it to divest its 55% stake in blocks of 5%. IDB has resisted the order, saying Clal’s Tel Aviv Stock Exchange share price undervalues the company. Ronen suggested entrusting the sale to a neutral third party. “Give control of the sale to the trustee. That will solve all the trust issues between you two,” she said. IDB’s lawyers said the company wanted the final say over the share’s selling price, but Salinger’s lawyers rejected the compromise outright. (Shelly Appelberg)

Matomy posts loss as revenue slips and R&D spending grows

Digital advertising firm Matomy Media Group said yesterday it slipped into loss in the first half as revenues edged down and spending on research and development rose in a bid to expand the company’s mobile and video offerings. Matomy said revenue fell 0.5% from a year earlier to $124.4 million on a GAAP basis, leaving it with an operating loss of $4.3 million, compared to a profit of $3.2 million in the first half of 2015. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization declined to $5.8 million from $9.7 million. R&D spending rose to $5 million from $3.6 million. “Recognizing that this industry evolves quickly, we have increased our product development investment in mobile and video delivered across mobile devices,” said CEO Ofer Druker, who has hinted he may step down soon. The only bright spot was high double-digit increases in mobile and video revenues. Shares of Matomy, which affirmed its forecast annual revenue in the range of $265 million to $300 million, closed 0.2% higher at 111 pence ($1.44) in London. (Shelly Appelberg)

Palestinian stock exchange joins FTSE Russell global frontier index

The Palestine Exchange joined the FTSE Russell family of indexes this week, giving global investors a benchmark for investing in Palestinian shares, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Inclusion in the index could serve as a catalyst for more foreign investment, but Palestine Exchange Vice Chairman Samir Hulileh, said he was skeptical. “It will improve our chances to be seen and for our companies to be noticed,” he told Bloomberg Television. The bourse is designated a “frontier market,” which includes countries whose equity markets that are considered “highly risky, and difficult and expensive to trade in,” according to the FTS Russell website. Although average trading volume on the exchange’s Al-Quds Index over the past six months was 1.1 million shares, more than double Morocco’s main stock gauge, the exchange has a market cap of just $3.3 billion, the West Bank economy is in a slump and its political future in doubt. (TheMarker Staff)

Shares quiet ahead of Fed rate decision

Tel Aviv shares ran in place yesterday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates. The TA-25 and TA-100 indexes were virtually unchanged, closing at 1,439.53 and 1,262.16 points, respectively, in thin trading of 914 million shekels ($242 million). Housing & Development Limited led TA-100 gainers on a 4.2% rise to 6.74 shekels while volume leader Bank Hapoalim climbed 1% to 21.37. TA-100 losers were led by El Al Airlines on a 3.5% drop to 3.41. Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank said yesterday that orders from the institutional tranche of a 3-billion-shekel bond offering had reached 3.97 billion shekels. The inflation-linked bonds will pay interest of 0.99 %. Blue Square Real Estate, now under the control of Moti Ben-Moshe, said orders for its 250-million-shekel issue were three times the amount of debt on offer. The effective yield investment trust focused on housing, completed a 60-million-shekel nitial public offering yesterday. (Guy Erez)