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Police raid Web site offices for suspected gambling ads

Police investigators from the National Fraud Squad raided the offices of three Internet sites yesterday to search for evidence that they were advertising gambling sites, which is illegal. The targets of the raids were MSN, Nana and Start. Last week, police raided Walla's offices for the same purpose. Police also questioned 20 employees of the targeted sites yesterday, some of them under caution. However, police predicted the affair will end not in prosecutions, but in those responsible signing pledges not to permit such advertising in the future. (Jonathan Lis)

New dating site targets Orthodox Jews worldwide

A new competitor to the popular Jewish dating site Jdate is in the offing: Capiyot ( recently signed an agreement with the U.S.-based Orthodox Union (OU) and the media company E-Shop to set up a dating site aimed at Jews in Europe, North America and Israel. The new site, to be jointly owned by the three partners, will be called OU Match. Applicants will be matched up on the basis of a psychological questionnaire, using Capiyot technology developed by researchers at Haifa University. One of the site's unique features is a pledge by OU representatives to verify the data that applicants provide about themselves before proposing a match. (Galya Yemini)

Interest rate on loans to public makes hefty climb

The average interest rate on loans to the public rose by 0.23 percentage points in November, to 7.03 percent, following a similar increase in October, the Bank of Israel reported yesterday. Both rises are hefty by the standards of the last few years, when the monthly change in interest rates was generally no more than a few hundredths of a percentage point. The gap between interest on loans and interest on deposits was 3.84 percentage points in November, similar to October's figure of 3.86 percentage points. (Moti Bassok)

Japan's Rakuto Kasei buys Bio-Dalia biotechnology firm

The Japanese company Rakuto Kasei has purchased 50 percent of Zohar Dalia's biotechnology company, Bio-Dalia. The purchase price was not released, but is estimated at a few million dollars. Bio-Dalia will focus on developing biological products for the food, cosmetics and waste treatment industries. Zohar Dalia, owned by Kibbutz Dalia, is considered a leading Israeli producer of raw materials for cosmetics and detergents. It employs some 200 workers and has an annual turnover of about NIS 250 million. Rakuto, a leading producer of enzymes, has an annual turnover of about $200 million. (Ora Coren)

Port fees reform delayed again until the end of 2006

A planned reform of port fees will not go into effect before the end of 2006 - some two years behind schedule, Amos Ron, CEO of the Israel Ports Company, said yesterday. Nevertheless, Ron said, a reform implemented last year, which was aimed at creating competition among Israel's ports, has already proved itself, resulting in significant shorter waiting times for loading and unloading. At Ashdod Port, the waiting time has fallen 26 percent, from 11.8 hours to 8.7 hours, he said, and at Haifa Port, it has dropped 18 percent, from 6.7 to 5.5 hours. He added that he expects waiting times to continue to fall in the future. (Sharon Kedmi)

Carmel group to sell shares of American Medical to Assuta

The Carmel group yesterday announced a successful exit from its investment in American Medical Center, a private hospital in Rishon Letzion. It has signed an agreement to sell its shares to Assuta Medical Centers for NIS 12 million, yielding a capital gain of about NIS 6 million. However, the deal is still not final. Assuta retains the right to cancel it until January 19, and approval is also needed from the Antitrust Authority and the Health Ministry. Carmel is a publicly traded investment company controlled by Jacques Bar, who also controls Tempo. (Shlomy Golovinski)



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