Business in Brief

IDB Development, Discount may merge; Traditional mutual funds suffer redemptions; Mazor Robotics loss widens as sales decline; Delek may take write-down in Phoenix sale; Banks pace gains in Tel Aviv market.

Emil Salman

IDB Development, Discount may merge
Moti Ben-Moshe and Eduardo Elsztain, who took over the IDB group earlier this year, are examining the possibility of merging the two companies at the top of the holding group’s pyramid structure, or alternatively taking one private. IDB Development Corporation and its Discount Investment Corporation unit told the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Tuesday that their boards had both approved a decision to examine the options as they seek to comply with the new Business Concentration Law. Approved by the Knesset in December, the law bars holding companies like IDB from having more than two publicly traded tiers of companies, starting in 2020. Discount controls most of IDB’s publicly traded operating companies, such as Cellcom Israel and Super-Sol. (Michael Rochvarger)

Traditional mutual funds suffer redemptions
Traditional mutual funds suffered redemptions in July for the first time in two and a half years, with investors pulling some 1 billion shekels ($290 million), Meitav Dash reported on Tuesday. Overall, however, mutual funds raised a net 2 billion shekels as money market funds drew some 3 billion shekels in net new money, leaving total mutual assets at a record high of 263 billion shekels. The funds have been enjoying a steady influx since they bottomed out at 156 billion shekels in July 2012, Meitav Dash said. The net redemptions in traditional mutual funds, which invest in stocks and bonds, came as the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s main share indices turned in a mixed performance in July, with most indices lower. However, bond funds also were hit with redemptions even though July saw a rally in bond prices. (Dror Reich)

Mazor Robotics loss widens as sales decline
Mazor Robotics, which makes guidance systems for spine surgery, reported Tuesday that its non-GAAP net loss in the second quarter widened to $3.7 million, 9 cents a share, from $500,000, or 2 cents, a year earlier as sales fell and costs rose. Revenue declined to $4.5 million from $6.2 million, while operating expenses climbed to $7.6 million from $5.7 million in the second quarter of 2013, which Mazor said reflect increased investment in sales and research and development. “Clinical interest from surgeons is at an all-time high. However during the quarter we faced extended administrative approval processes for system orders by potential U.S. customers,” said CEO Ori Hadomi. Mazor shares closed down 0.7%, to 23.04 shekels ($6.75) in Tel Aviv. (TheMarker)

Delek may take write-down in Phoenix sale
Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group may report as much as a 550-million-shekel ($161 million) write-down in connection with the sale of its controlling stake in the insurer Phoenix Holdings to New York-based Kushner Funding. Delek has not yet formally estimated the accounting impact of the sale, but executives are assessing the impact with accountants. Delek last month reached a nonbinding agreement with Kushner, whose head, Jared Kushner, is real estate magnate Donald Trump’s son-in-law, to sell it 47% of Phoenix for about 1.7 billion shekels ($497 million). Delek valued its Phoenix holdings on its books at 2.2 billion shekels as of March, but under accounting rules if the stake is up for sale Delek will have to revalue them to their market valuation, which today is just 1.6 billion shekels. Shares of Delek fell 0.5% to 1,362 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Michael Rochvarger and Asa Sasson)

Banks pace gains in Tel Aviv market
Led by Mizrahi Tefahot, bank shares led the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange higher on Tuesday. The benchmark TA-25 index finished 0.2% up at 1,395.91 points while the TA-100 index edged 0.1% higher to 1,247.71. Turnover was 953.5 million shekels ($279 million). Miizrahi rose 1.9% to close at 44.80 shekels, with Bank Hapolaim adding 1.2% to 20.44, Israel Discount Bank 1.2% to 6.11 and Bank Leumi 1% to 13.66. Nitzba led the gainers in the TA-100, rising 5.4% to 54.97 after its parent, Airport City, said it was weighing taking the company private. TowerJazz extended its gains from a strong second-quarter earnings report to close up 1.7% at 37.13. (Shelly Appelberg)