Business in Brief

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Prices up only 0.4% in April

Prices increased 0.4% in April, the lowest rate for that month over the past 10 years, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data. The country’s poorer citizens felt the increase more than wealthier citizens. Products and services consumed by the bottom decile became 0.5% more expensive, while those consumed by the top decile increased only 0.3% in price. Clothing and footwear ‏(3.8%‏), vegetables ‏(3.1%‏), food as a whole ‏(1%‏), and housing ‏(0.9%‏) became more expensive, while transportation ‏(-1.1%‏) and entertainment ‏(-0.8%‏) became cheaper. The CPI is up 0.4% for the year and 0.8% for the 12-month period ending in April. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Dollar gains against shekel after rate hike

The value of the dollar shot up against the shekel to NIS 3.638 following the Bank of Israel’s announcement Tuesday that interest rates would drop by 0.25% on Friday. This puts the central bank’s base rate at 1.5%. The central bank also announced a plan to sop up dollars in an attempt to keep the shekel from appreciating due to natural gas sales from Israel’s offshore gas field Tamar, which recently started production. The bank intends to buy up $2.1 billion by the end of the year. As of Tuesday, the shekel was trading at NIS 3.638 versus the dollar, an increase of 1.9%, and NIS 4.73 versus the euro, an increase of 2%. ‏(Dror Reich‏)

David Azrieli to get salary cut to NIS 10 million

Azrieli group chairman David Azrieli will have to manage with an annual salary of only NIS 10 million, down from the NIS 23.1 million he received in 2012 − making him the top earner at a publicly held company in Israel that year. The Azrieli group is scheduled to hold a special shareholders meeting on June 20 to approve salaries at the company, considered one of the more stable ones in Israel. Due to an amendment to the companies law, the group has to convene a shareholders meeting to approve a new contract for Azrieli, 91, whose current wage agreement expires in June. The lower salary − about 60% less than what Azrieli received for each of the last five years − comes after discussions among shareholders including institutional investors and corporate adviser Entropy. ‏(Michael Rochvarger‏)

France fines Sanofi after Teva alleges smear

The French Competition Authority said on Tuesday it fined drugmaker Sanofi 40.6 million euros ‏($52.7 million‏) over what it called a smear campaign aimed at stifling generic competition to its blood thinner, Plavix. The decision follows a complaint filed by Teva Sante, a unit of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, against communication practices by Sanofi toward health professionals to limit the use of generic versions of Plavix and support its own products, Plavix Princeps and Plavix Clopidogrel Winthrop. ‏(Reuters‏)  

Bank of Israel building. Credit: Emil Salman