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The Ports Authority is planning to raise some $200 million over the next three years from outside sources, primarily from foreign banks and institutional investors.

The authority's credit has been graded by international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's at A+ for domestic currency and at A- for foreign currency, the authority reported. This is the same ranking the state received, it added - and therefore the maximum credit ranking allowed.

Amos Ron, director of the authority, called the ranking an expression of confidence in the financial performance of the authority and its ability to raise finance from external sources.

The Ports Authority began raising outside funds a year ago, but the process was halted when the government decided to split the three state-owned ports, Eilat, Ashdod and Haifa, into separate units, in preparation for future privatization. That process encountered obstacles - not least the vociferous objections of the port workers, which included strike action and legal disputes - and as yet, the three ports remain in state hands, and under one unit.

The authority said that the fundraising will recommence as soon as the talks between the state and the port workers have ended, and after structural changes have been implemented at the ports.