Business in Brief
Gasoline prices set to rise by 1.5% at midnight
Gasoline prices are set to go up 1.5% as of midnight Thursday, with 95 octane costing NIS 7.95 a liter at self-service pumps, an increase of 12 agorot. Gasoline from full-service stations will still cost an extra 18 agorot per liter. This is the highest price for gasoline since it reached a peak of NIS 8.25 a liter in September. Since January, the price has climbed 5.7%. The reasn for the price hikle is that gasoline prices in Europe, which are used to set controlled fuel prices in Israel, have risen 2.96% since the start of February. In addition, a 0.13% devaluation of the shekel to the dollar has boosted the basic price by 10 agorot a liter before taking into account taxes and selling margins. (Itai Trilnick)
Government to spend NIS 70 million to encourage Haredi employment
The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, along with the Finance Ministry, is inaugurating career centers for the ultra-Orthodox public in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak to be run by the municipalities under the ministry’s supervision. NIS 70 million is being allocated to the project for a period three years, with NIS 48 million designated for the center in Jerusalem. The goal is to increase the labor force participation rate among Haredim to 63% in 2020, from 45% today among men. The centers, based on the Strive Israel program developed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the government, are expected to open within several months and serve 6,000 people a year. They will offer vocational assessments, placement assistance and follow up, as well as workshops and training.
018 Xphone in deal with Bezeq for landline Internet service
018 Xphone announced on Wednesday that it had reached the first comprehensive wholesaling agreement with Bezeq, allowing it to become the first supplier offering customers land-based Internet infrastructure along with connection services as an ISP. In three months, 018 will begin to offer a service without any need to contract separately with Bezeq or Hot Telecom for physical infrastructure. The company will likely offer a package that includes a phone line and Internet for a single price. Behind the scenes, 018 will use Bezeq’s network, but for the customer, 018 will be the sole address for billing and connection issues. (Amitai Ziv)
Israel Corp. injects another $33m in struggling Better Place
The Israel Corporation announced on Tuesday it had transferred another $33 million to Better Place, the struggling electric-vehicle refueling start-up. The latest capital infusion raises Israel Corporation’s stake in Better Place to over 32% and its overall investment in the company to $296 million. Private companies owned by Idan Ofer, Israel Corporation’s controlling shareholder, also undertook to invest up to $19 million in the electric-vehicle company, while another shareholder − an international financial company − has pledged $14.4 million. After selling a disappointing 518 cars in all of 2012, Better Place has delivered 102 new vehicles through customer leasing arrangements with the auto-leasing company Albar this year.