Hapoalim, Leumi consider charging for investment advice - on top of trading fees

Banks Hapoalim and Leumi are considering charging for investment advice - a service Israel's banks currently offer free of charge, since they receive fees when customers trade or hold investments. Hapoalim and Leumi, Israel's two largest banks, are considering including this new fee when they publish price lists on March 1. Stock-trading fees are supposed to be cheaper in the new listing, as Banks Commissioner David Zaken ordered. The move to cut investment portfolio fees is part of Zaken's initiative to increase competition within the banking sector. Zaken found customers were being charged significantly less than the banks' official rates, which made shopping around for better deals difficult. (Sivan Aizescu )

Electronics, sporting goods are big moneymakers at Ben-Gurion airport

Duty-free shops at Ben-Gurion International Airport make most of their revenues from electronics and sporting goods, the Israel Airports Authority reports. The authority took in NIS 1.047 billion in 2011 from stores stationed within Israel's airports, it stated, and more than 70% of that sum was from duty-free shops. Bug Electronics, for instance, had revenue of NIS 207 million, and paid the IAA NIS 24 million in royalties. The sporting goods stores at Ben-Gurion had revenues of NIS 105 million, and paid the IAA NIS 40 million. The IAA does not receive state funding; rather, its budget comes from the fees it charges. In 2011, 13 million passengers passed through Ben-Gurion. (Zohar Blumenkrantz )

Flood damage shuts Hadera desalination plant

The Hadera desalination plant has been offline since Wednesday due to flood damage, and is expected to resume operating only within the next few days. The plant halted operation after three sewage tanks overflowed into the Hadera River amid the heavy rains this past week, polluting the region from which the plant pulls water to desalinate. The plant, which feeds the national pipelines, pulls its water from a point about 1.25 kilometers offshore. It will resume operating once tests indicate that the water there is clean of sewage. (Itai Trilnick )

Ben-Gurion Airport's duty free shopsCredit: David Bachar