Business in Brief: Israir Pilots Declare Work Dispute Over Talks to Sell Airline

Searchlight raises bid for Bezeq’s parent company to NIS 19 a share ■ Patrick Drahi’s Altice reportedly seeking a buyer for Israel’s Hot Telecom ■ Tel Aviv shares post gain in sideways trading

The Israir flight landed at Kosice airport, Slovakia.
Moni Shapir

Searchlight raises bid for Bezeq’s parent company to NIS 19 a share

U.S. private equity investor Searchlight Capital Partners has made a new offer to buy a controlling stake in the parent company of Bezeq, Internet Gold, said on Sunday. Searchlight is ready to buy 19.4 million shares in B Communications, which has a controlling 26.3% stake in Bezeq, from Internet Gold for 20 shekels ($5.51) a share, it said. That is an improvement of 3 shekels a share over the offer Searchlight made last month, with the possibility of milestone payments adding up to another 8 shekels a share contingent on Bezeq’s meeting certain targets. It also offered a second option of 17.5 shekels a share with no further conditions. Internet Gold has been searching for a buyer for its B Communications shares since mid-2018 under pressure from bondholders. Internet Gold shares finished up 5.1% at 2.98 shekels. BCom rose 6.1% to to close at 17.13 shekels. (Reuters)

Patrick Drahi’s Altice reportedly seeking a buyer for Israel’s Hot Telecom

Altice Europe has hired Morgan Stanley to review options for its Hot Telecom unit as Franco-Israeli founder Patrick Drahi wants to streamline the heavily indebted group and raise cash to take part in France’s 5G auction, sources told Reuters over the weekend. Hot issued a statement on Sunday denying the report, but two unnamed sources told Reuters that Morgan Stanley was retained to help Altice gauge investors’ appetite for the Israeli business, although they cautioned that the review was at an early stage and that no deal was certain. Altice declined to comment while Morgan Stanley wasn’t immediately available. Hot reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 475 million euros in 2017 and may be worth about $1 billion, the sources said. The move comes as the Amsterdam-listed telecom carrier is conducting a series of divestments to slash its 30 billion euro debt pile. (Reuters and TheMarker Staff)

Israir pilots declare work dispute over talks to sell airline to Yoav Golan

Israir pilots declared a labor dispute Thursday in a bid to block a possible sale of the carrier to businessman Yoav Golan. The declaration, which would enable them to strike after a two-week cooling-off period, came after media reports that Golan was offering to buy Israir for $55 million in a leveraged deal after plans to sell the airline to Brown Hotels faded amid concerns that Brown won’t be able to raise the capital. Golan is reportedly planning to finance his acquisition with up to $40 million in bank loans, with the rest coming from a bond issue by Israir itself. In a letter to the board, the pilots warned that an indebted Israir would have trouble coping with worsening business conditions, such as a sharp rise in fuel prices. Eduardo Elsztein, who controls Israir through his IDB group, is seeking to sell the airline in order to raise badly needed cash to repay debt. (Yoram Gabison)

Court approves sale of Africa Israel Properties to invesotr group led by Big and Mega-Or

The sale of Africa Israel Properties, the biggest unit of indebted Africa Israel Investments, was formally turned over to its new owners on Sunday after Tel Aviv District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein approved its sale. An investor group led by Big Shopping Centers and Mega-Or paid 1.25 billion shekels ($340 million) for Africa Israel’s 51% stake in Africa Properties. Lev Leviev surrendered control of Africa Israel to bondholders after declining to inject new capital into the property developer to help it repay some 3 billion shekels in debt. The Big-Mega-Or group, formed just a few weeks ago, paid 86 shekels a share for Africa Properties, compared with a 96.70 shekel closing price for the stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday. Africa Properties shares closed down 1%. Big Deputy CEO Hay Galis said the group didn’t plan to buy more shares and declined to comment on future plans. (Shelly Appelberg and Michael Rochvarger)

Tel Aviv shares post gain in sideways trading

Tel Aviv shares traded sideways Sunday to end with moderate gains. The TA-35 and TA-125 indices both finished up about 0.5% at 1,578.39 and 1.438.70 points, respectively, on turnover of 428 million shekels ($118 million). Gazit Globe rose 4.78% to close at 29.65 shekels after it announced it was selling most of its holding in Canada’s First Capital reality shares for 1.195 billion Canadian dollars ($890 million). Its parent, Norstar, climbed 9.5% to 48.41 to top TA-125 gains. Opko Health rose 8.4% to 9.96. Spacecom showed another day of sky-high gains, adding 20.1% to 23.42. Ayalon added 5.3% to 23.41 after its board said it was demanding 200,000 shekels in office expenses back from controlling shareholder Levy Rachmani after he was forced to give up his management role in the insurance company. Afcon Holdings raised 192 million shekels in a bond issue with institutions it will use to finance infrastructure investments. Demand was 410 million shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)