* El Al the private airline, we barely knew ye: El Al was privatized in 2003, but it may find itself re-nationalized because of the airline's sorry financial condition in today's challenging business environment and the ramifications of the airline's sorry financial condition's for Israel's Open Skies treaty with Europe, which hasn't been signed yet. Ambassador Andrew Standley, head of the EU delegation to Israel, urged Israel's transport minister in a meeting late last week that Israel should sign the agreement already, noting that 60 percent of the aviation traffic to and from the Holy Land is with members of the European Union.
* Israel owes 1.9 million Swiss francs to God-particle accelerator: Israel owes 1.9 million Swiss francs in funding for the CERN Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator in which the putative discovery of the so-called "God particle," otherwise known as Higg's boson, was recently made. Israel's total share in funding this year comes to CHF 3.7 million but it has only handed over 45 percent of that amount. Israel has observer status in the project, in which some Israeli scientists are involved. If Israel is accepted as a full-blown member, its share of the funding will grow too. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor commented that the money will be paid in full soon and that in any case the standing of Israel's scientists won't be impaired.
* Israeli women to work longer? Every country in the world with the exception of France has been jacking up retirement ages, and "like it or not" Israel must do so as well, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said over the weekend. This is because people are living longer and the entire pension and insurance system is in danger, the minister explained. At present Israeli women retire at 62; there is a recommendation in place that the age be hiked to 67, and a law (frozen for five years) raising that age to 64.
* Forecast: Brown-outs. The Israel Electric Corp warned of brown-outs this week as heavy heat descends on the nation, raising power consumption toward the limit of production capacity. Over the weekend IEC workers raced to fix a malfunction at the huge power station in Hadera, which shut down 5 percent of Israel's power production capacity over the weekend. Also, the IEC will be supplying natural gas to private power stations unable to get gas otherwise or use alternative fuels. On Thursday last week, Israelis had a taste of the problem when a malfunction at the power plant in Ashkelon caused blackouts throughout the country.
* Hiring freeze in business sector: Israel's economic growth is trending downwards and so is growth of the number of business-sector employee jobs, say Discount Bank analysts. Economist Nira Shamir says she has checked the number of employee jobs in the business sector year-over-yearr. In 2010 and 2011, hiring by the public and private sectors had moved roughly in tandem; that isn't so this year. In October 2011, for instance, both grew by 2.5% in annualized terms. In April 2012, the number of employee jobs grew 4.5% against April 2011; in the business sector, growth was 0.8%, Shamir says.
* Energy baron Yitzhak Tshuva is moving to float the limited partnership Delek Logistics in New York, in parallel with negotiating the repayment of about NIS 2.5 billion with bondholders and other creditors of his company Delek Real Estate. Delek Logistics is controlled by Delek US Holdings, which is listed in New York as well. Delek Logistics plans to issue half its shares in an offering led by Merrill Lynch Bank of America and Barclays. It would be using at least some of the proceeds to repay banks and an owner's loan.
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