Business in Brief: Boston-based LogMeIn Buys Israel’s Nanorep for $5 Million

Frutarom takes 7.5% stake in Enzymotec and may buy more ■ Mizrahi Tefahot union calls 24-hour warning strike for Wednesday ■ Allot Communications narrows its second-quarter loss

File photo: Frutarom plant, New Jersey, U.S.
File photo: Frutarom plant, New Jersey, U.S. Mike Derer/AP

Boston-based LogMeIn buys Israel’s Nanorep for $5 million

LogMeIn said on Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Nanorep, an Israeli startup that develops chatbots and other artificial intelligence tools to help people navigate self-service apps. LogMeIn, which makes authentication and other connectivity solutions for people connecting remotely to networks and services, didn’t disclose a price but it is reported to be $45 million in cash. In addition, Nanorep’s 50 employees will be entitled to another $5 million in payouts if they meet certain business milestones over the next two years. Based in Herzliya, Nanorep was formed in 2009, long before the first chatbots. A recent study from Gartner suggests that the percentage of customer service interactions that will be handled by conversational agents is expected to increase from 3% in 2017 to 30% by 2022. “Artificial intelligence is changing the way we interact with our favorite brands and will play a critical role in the future of customer engagement,” said Bill Wagner, CEO of Boston-based LogMeIn. (Eliran Rubin)

Frutarom takes 7.5% stake in Enzymotec and may buy more

Frutarom’s announced on Monday its purchase of a 7.5% stake in NASDAQ-traded Enzymotec, saying it may raise its stake further in the maker of nutritional ingredients and medical foods. Frutarom, a maker of flavors and fragrances, paid $7.50 a share, or a total of $13 million, for the Enzymotec stock. “We’ve thought for a long time that the company could be interesting if it undertook a strategic change. Today it has new management. We’ll monitor and see if any changes come,” said Frutarom CEO Uri Yehudai. Enzymotec went public in 2014 at $14 a share and its stock briefly rose to $33 before a series of earnings disappointments caused its share price to plunge. More recently it has replaced top management, including the appointment of Erez Israeli as CEO in March. Frutarom, meanwhile, has snapped up no fewer than 32 small, closely held businesses since 2012. Enzymotec shares were up 7.1% at $9.05 midday local time in New York. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Mizrahi Tefahot union calls 24-hour warning strike for Wednesday

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank workers called a 24-hour warning strike for Wednesday after learning that management is interested in acquiring rival Union Bank of Israel. Daniel Dahan, chairman of Mizrahi’s workers committee, said management had insisted on a no-strike clause in their latest round of wage talks even though it knew it was planning the acquisition with the aim of tying the union’s hands when it seeks concessions. “The true face of Mizrahi management has been exposed along with its repeated lies to workers,” he said. The bank said managers would open branches on Wednesday and provide services, adding it expected hundreds of other union members to come to work as well. Mizrahi, Israel’s fourth-largest bank, said on Monday it was in talks to buy control of Union in a share swap, a deal that values the smaller lender at 60% of its 2.4 billion shekel ($570 million) shareholders’ equity. (Tali Heruti-Sover)

Allot Communications narrows its second-quarter loss

Allot Communications narrowed its net loss in the second quarter as revenues declined and CEO Erez Antebi said the company’s book-to-bill ratio – a pointer of future revenue growth – looked strong. The company posted a net loss of $2.3 million, or 7 cents a share, after adjusting for stock option expense and amortization costs, narrowing from a loss of $3 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier. Earnings were ahead of Wall Street expectations, which according to Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 8 cents. Revenues, however, fell 15% year on year to $19.5 million. “The past quarter was the second consecutive quarter with book-to-bill ratio above one,” Antebi said. Allot reiterates its forecast for full-year revenue in the range of $80 million to $84 million, which would mean a decline of 10% from 2016. Allot shares were trading unchanged at $5.06 at midday local time in New York. (Omri Zerachovitz)