Business in Brief

Microsoft wants order in web extensions, Elbit wins Swiss drone contract, Greece’s Energean partners in Israeli gas fields and tech stocks lead TASE rally.

Reuters

Microsoft in talks with Download Valley companies

Microsoft is seeking to bring order to the malware segment, meeting with 20 adware companies – many of them denizens of Israel’s so-called Download Valley, who develop and distribute free web-browser extensions – to coax them into agreeing on a set of best practices that would make them Microsoft-approved adware vendors, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the companies are Israel’s Perion Networks, IronSource and Babylon, who are being asked to adhere to Microsoft guidelines issued in April that require adware developers to supply users with a simple, easy way to close pop-up ads, find the programs that launch them and make it easy to remove them from their computers. Shares of Babylon jumped 10.6% to close at 4.94 shekels ($1.43), while Perion advanced 3.3% to 36.84 shekels.

Elbit wins $280 million Swiss drone contract

Elbit Systems said Sunday it had won a contract to supply reconnaissance drones to the Swiss Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport. The Swiss DDPS said it would be buying Elbit’s Hermes 9000 HFE drones for about 250 million francs ($280 million), subject to approval by parliament and the government’s 2015 armaments program. Elbit beat a competing bid by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, which offered its Super Heron drone as an alternative, the DDPS said. The ADS 95 Ranger reconnaissance drone system, which the Swiss Armed Forces has been using since 2001, will be replaced by 2020, the DDPS added. Elbit shares finished up 1.8% at 222 shekels ($64.10) in Tel Aviv.

Greece’s Energean signs on as partner in Sara, Myra gas fields

Energean E&P Holdings, Greece’s sole producer of oil and natural gas, will take a 25% stake in the partnership holding in Israel’s offshore Sara and Myra gas fields. Energean will cover a proportional share of future drilling costs at the licenses, replacing the Canadian company GGR, whose drilling efforts failed to make significant gas findings in 2012. The sale will make the Greek company an equal partner with Ratio, which also has a 25% stake in the licenses. Last November, Energean formed a joint venture with Ocean Rig – a specialist in ultra-deep sea drilling – to bid on licenses in the Mediterranean and other areas. Shares of Ratio finished up 1% at 49 agorot in Tel Aviv.

Azrieli in talks to sell Sonol unit to S. Shlomo

Azrieli Group Sunday confirmed media reports that it is in talks to sell the energy company Sonol Israel to S. Shlomo Holdings. Azrieli Group, which is Israel’s biggest shopping mall owner and developer, gave no further details of the negotiations, but sources said Sonol would likely be sold in the range of 400 million to 450 million shekels ($115 million to $130 million). Sonol is one of two major holdings it is seeking to divest over the next several weeks, the other being the Palmahim water desalination facility. Azrieli is in talks with a group of investors, led by the Tashtiot Fund, to sell the facility – also for the same amount as Sonol. Shares of Azrieli closed up 0.3% at 116.40 shekels in Tel Aviv.

Delek signs binding agreement to sell European unit

Delek Group moved a step closer to completing the 1.7 billion-shekel ($490 million) sale of its Delek Europe unit over the weekend. Yitzhak Tshuva’s holding company signed a binding agreement in London with the British fund TDR Capital, six weeks after signing a memorandum of understanding on the sale. The two sides were able to move forward after TDR won 400 million euros ($546 million) of financing from a European bank consortium that it will use to recycle debt now carried by Delek Europe. The sale is one of a series Delek is making to raise cash for its energy business, but Delek isn’t expected to report a gain on the sale. Delek shares rose 1.4% to close at 1,473 shekels in Tel Aviv.

Tech stocks lead Tel Aviv rally

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rallied Sunday, with shares and bonds posting strong gains. Led by technology and biomed stocks, the TA-25 and TA-100 indices both finished 1% higher at 1,414.38 and 1,272.55 points, respectively. Turnover, however, was a low 598 million shekels ($173 million). In the fixed income market, the government’s shekel bond due in 2024 jumped 0.36%, to lower its yields to 2.93%, bringing it to the same level as equivalent U.S. treasuries for the first time since 2007. The government’s inflation-linked bond climbed 0.23%, to cut its yield to 0.79%. Among biomed stocks, Kamada closed up 4.2% at 29.26 shekels and Opko Health added 4% to 32.35 shekels.