Business in Brief

Steinitz approves hike in prices of dairy products; Sodastream crowned Israel's most innovative company.

Steinitz approves 3.5% hike in prices of controlled dairy products

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz yesterday approved a 3.5% hike in the prices of price-controlled dairy products. A government committee had recommended an average price increase of 6.3% for the items, "Considering that we're talking about a sharp price increase for a basic product, I find it proper to mitigate the recommendation by cutting it proportionally until the additional research I have requested on the issue is concluded," Steinitz explained. (Moti Bassok and Ora Coren )

Bank embezzlement case fell by 50% in 2012

The volume of embezzlement by employees of Israeli banks fell to NIS 7 million in 2012, compared to NIS 14 million in 2011, according to a report issued yesterday by the Bank of Israel. Israeli banks reported that 11 employees had been fired in connection with alleged illegal activity. The largest instance in 2012 by far, totaling NIS 6 million, took place in the Taibeh branch of Bank Hapoalim. Police were called in after an employee was found to have allegedly transferred funds out of customer accounts without their knowledge over a period of several years. (Sivan Aizescu )

Carmel, Horizon were most active venture funds in 2012

Carmel Ventures was the most active venture capital fund in Israel in 2012 with 11 first-time investments, the industry monitoring group IVC Research Center said yesterday. In second place was Horizon Ventures, belonging to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, which made 10 initial investments. IVC reported that 90 venture capital funds in all made first-time investments during the year in Israeli high-tech startups or companies founded by Israelis with significant activity in Israel. Of these, 19 Israeli and foreign funds made three or more initial investments. Genesis Partners and Gemini Israel Ventures shared third place, with seven each. (Orr Hirschauge and Inbal Orpaz )

Eugene Kandel won't join Bank of Israel race

Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council since June 2009, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last weekend he doesn't want to be the next governor of the Bank of Israel. Kandel said he intends to continue serving in his current role, which includes helping to prepare the 2013-2014 biennial budget and formulating Israel's long-term economic plan with the help of global think tank Rand Corporation. Kandel had been mentioned as a possible successor to Stanley Fischer when the latter steps down at the end of June. The current front runner for the job is Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, who was the previous chairman of the council. (Moti Bassok )

Sodastream is Israel's most innovative company

Sodastream, a maker of home carbonation equipment, was crowned the most innovative company in Israel for 2013 by the U.S. business magazine Fast Company. Xsight Systems took second place in the list, with Waze Mobile ranking third and Better Place closing out the top 10. "Sodastream made many strides the past year, including linking up with leading designers, attacking the major beverage companies over the pollution they generate and an ad campaign that's been arousing interest and causing a stir worldwide," said Efi Eshel, CEO of Sodastream Israel. (Dror Reich )

Bloomberg