News in Brief

Search committee chief proposes self to head TASE

The head of the committee charged with finding a new chair for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange told committee members that all potential candidates had been found unfit, and thus is proposing herself as the candidate when the decision comes up for a vote tomorrow, sources told TheMarker. Bracha Litvak’s committee had been searching for a candidate for two months, and Litvak stated that she had been approached several times regarding the matter over the past few days, the TASE spokeswoman noted in response. The committee reviewed candidates based on criteria set by the TASE board and the law, and ultimately found two other candidates, but both declined, it added. Litvak and her associates commented that she had not proposed herself for the position, but that others had asked that she step forward. (Shelly Appelberg)

Markstone wants to sell Psagot shares

Markstone is seeking a buyer for its shares in Psagot, and hired Hapoalim Capital Markets to find potential buyers for its holding in Israel’s largest investment house. Markstone owns 23.2% of Psagot’s shares through Phenomenal Holdings. The remaining 77% is owned by the Apax fund. Meanwhile, a privately-held firm named Phenomenal Holdings, which is owned by Markstone, stated that Markstone is delaying a 15million shekel ($4.2 million) payment to its bondholders that should have been made last week. The reason for the delay was not explained. (Michael Rochvarger)

Givot Olam completes drilling at Meged 6 well

Drilling at Meged 6 has finished, announced oil and gas exploration firm Givot Olam Tuesday morning. The drilling at Meged 6 reached a depth of 4,754 meters, at a total cost of $21.3 million. The drilling partners intend to complete the well in order to conduct production tests, which is likely to take three months, it added. Meged 6 is the second well to be drilled at the Meged field near the town of Rosh Ha’ayin; Meged 5 is already producing commercial quantities of oil. Givot had previously announced that it found oil and gas at Meged 6. (Eran Azran)

Nice Systems names Americas chief as CEO

Security systems provider Nice Systems said Barak Eilam - the head of its Americas business - will take over as its new chief executive by the end of April. He will replace Zeevi Bregman, who has been CEO since September 2009. “We imagine that the rise of a younger CEO could signal a more aggressive stance in key areas such as M&A strategy,” Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal said in a note. Eilam has been president of Nice Americas - where the company earns about half its revenue - for the past year and a half. (Reuters)

Strauss Coffee buys Romanian firm for $20m

Strauss Coffee signed an agreement to buy the Romanian coffee brand Amigo, owned by Iguacu, for $20 million. The brand had $12.5 million in sales in 2012, while Strauss Coffee’s sales totaled 170 million shekels ($48 million) between January and September of last year, a 10.2% decrease versus the parallel period in 2012. Strauss Coffee is controlled by Strauss (74.9%), and the remainder is owned by TPG. The deal is pending approval by the Romanian antitrust authorities. (Yoram Gabison)

TASE closes with gains after rocky start

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange started the day with sizeable losses but reversed course midtrading in order to close Tuesday’s session with gains. Shares were initially pulled down by losses in Asia and weak manufacturing data in the United States, but investors decided the initial selloff was overblown and drove the exchange to close with moderate gains. The blue-chip Tel Aviv-25 Index had traded down as much as 1.4%, but ultimately closed up 0.4%, at 1,301 points. The broader Tel Aviv-100 Index closed nearly flat, at 1,197 points. The Banks-5, which initially was down 1.6%, closed down only 0.2%. Total turnover was a particularly high 1.76 billion shekels ($500 million). Notable shares included telecommunications company Bezeq, up 3.7%, which pulled parent company B-Com to gains of 4.5%; and food manufacturer Strauss, up 3%. (Eran Azran)