Markets in Brief

Two of three B. Yair external directors quit

Construction company B. Yair, which belongs to brothers Yair and Yosef Biton, announced late last week that two of its three non-executive directors resigned after two and four years on the job, respectively. Director Doron Shorer, formerly the capital market commissioner at the Finance Ministry, wrote in his letter of resignation that now the company is no longer in crisis and is embarking on a new path, "it's time to change horses" and that his personal plans will prevent him from devoting the necessary time to the job. Delicately phrased, but capital market sources surmise Shorer was unhappy with the new pay packages for the Biton bros. The proposal, to be brought before shareholders on January 5, includes management fees of NIS 247,000 a month, and an annual bonus amounting to 8-10% of the company's pretax profit. The other resigning director is Ofer Orlitzky. (Michael Rochvarger )

Constanta ends casino deal with Queenco

The deal for QLI, a subsidiary of Queenco, to establish a casino in Constanta is off. The Romanian city wrote to the company, saying it was unilaterally terminating the agreement (dating from 2007 ) because it does not accept the lease arrangement for the building. The port city, on the Black Sea, also claims that Queenco is has reneged on its promises. The lease on the 800-square-meter building had been for 49 years, and stated that it was for a casino, but the city says the structure, erected in 1909, was declared a "national architectural treasure" in 1956. QLI had undertaken an 10-million-euro renovation and payment of lease fees of 140,000 euros a year, but the city decided that wasn't good enough. The casino was to have opened in 2009. Queenco says it can't yet estimate how the contract termination will affect its financials, or whether it will take steps against the city. (Yael Fater )

Ormat exploring Chilean geothermal site

Geothermal energy company Ormat Technologies is expanding operations to Chile. Acting through its South American unit, Ormat Andina Energia, it is one of 13 firms that bid to explore for geothermal potential in that country. At the end of last week the company said its unit completed initial stages of work on the 26,000-acre San Pablo II geothermal exploration concession in northern Chile. The site is north of the San Pablo/San Pedro twin volcanic site, Ormat says, and it's near copper mines that might consume power produced at a future plant. The next phase is to conduct tests at the site to determine its feasibility. Ormat Andina is headed by Yoram Bronicki, son of Lucien and Dita Bronicki, who founded the group. (Yoram Gabison )

ICL CEO sells shares to Israel Corp.

Israel Chemicals CEO Akiva Mozes sold NIS 58 million worth of shares in the company to the parent company Israel Corporation at the end of last week. Mozes exercised 1.5 million in stock options he'd received in 2007, converting them into 985,000 shares that he sold for NIS 58.80 per share, which was the opening share price on Thursday. The sell-off leaves Mozes with 433,00 ICL shares worth NIS 26 million on the market. (Yoram Gabison )

Excellence tweaks management fees

From this week, the investments firm Excellence is raising the management fees it charges on eight of its relatively large mutual funds, and is lowering fees it charges on two, relatively small funds. The big funds have tens or hundreds of millions of shekels in managed assets, while the smaller ones fees have just a few million shekels in assets. For instance, the fee on the fund Defensive TA-25, which has NIS 62 million under management, will rise from 2.8% to 2.9%; the fee for Excellence Government Bonds No Shares, which has NIS 462 million in managed assets, will increase from 1.1% to 1.2%; and Excellence Linked 2-4 Year Bonds No shares, with NIS 940 million in assets, will rise from 0.8% to 0.9%. The funds on which fees are dropping are Excellence Denominated in Dollars, from 0.75% to 0.5%, and KSM Excellence Tel-Bond 60 index, from 0.4% to 0.25%. (Eti Aflalo )

Itamar to develop EndoPAT for La Roche

Itamar Medical has signed an agreement with the multinational drugs company F. Hoffman-La Roche to develop a version of its EndoPAT technology for animals. The agreement gives the Israeli company three years to finish development. Over time La Roche will be injecting 1.35 million euros, subject to its agreement to continue the development process; Itamar will put up 250,000 euros. EndoPAT is a device to measure endothelial function, which has been approved for use in the U.S. and Europe. Endothelial dysfunction is the earliest detectable stage of cardiovascular disease, Itamar explains. The device is based on noninvasive peripheral arterial tone (PAT ) signal technology, which measures endothelium-mediated changes in vascular tone using sensors placed on the fingertips. (TheMarker )

Ron Fainaro quits as Africa Israel CFO

Ron Fainaro is stepping down as chief financial officer of Africa Israel Investments. The company says his date of departure hasn't been determined yet, and it will advise. It didn't provide any details as to why he is leaving. (TheMarker )