Business in Brief

Better Place liquidators cleared to lay off 209

The court overseeing Better Place’s bankruptcy yesterday authorized the temporary liquidators running the company to lay off 209 employees without having to go through the usual legally mandated procedures. The move leaves the failed electric-vehicle refueling company with just 111 workers. Judge Ilan Shiloh of the Lod District Court ruled that the liquidators could pay Better Place’s employees their May salaries. The liquidators, attorneys Sigal Rosen-Rechav and Shaul Kotler, agreed with lawyers representing Better Place staffers to retain pregnant women and people with handicaps on the work force. “The staff that continues to work at Better Place will cooperate with the liquidators to try ensure that the company continues operating so it can be sold to an investor that wants to continue its operations,” Rosen-Rechav said. ‏(Yasmin Gueta‏)

OECD sees economy growing 3.9% in 2013

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said yesterday that the Israeli economy will grow 3.9% this year, thanks mainly to the start of natural gas production at the Tamar field, but slow to 3.4% in 2014. The forecast came as part of it global outlook, which foresees a mild improvement in the world economy this year, to growth of 3.1%. Global growth will pick up in the second half of 2014, it said, leaving the full-year expansion for 2014 at 4%. In Israel, the OECD expects Tamar to account for one percentage point of this year’s economic growth and 0.7 percentage points in 2014. Stronger exports will be offset by the government’s austerity budget, the organization said. ‏(Ronit Domke‏)

Ben-Gurion Airport sees sharp rise in travelers

Ben-Gurion Airport enjoyed a surprisingly large 13.5% jump in passengers passing through its terminal in May compared with the same month a year ago, the Airports Authority said yesterday. The monthly figure brought the number of travelers passing through Israel’s main international airport to 4.573 million so far this year, an increase of about 5% from the same time in 2012. Airline industry sources attributed the increase to a rise in the number of seats available to flyers and intense competition among carriers that has led to lower airfares and prompted more special rates. They also said there was increased travel by business people. ‏(Zohar Blumenkrantz‏)

Africa Israel posts first-quarter loss

Lev Leviev’s real estate development company Africa Israel Investments moved to a loss in the first quarter, due to a drop in revenue and higher financing expenses. The company said yesterday it lost NIS 73.2 million in the first three months, compared with a profit of NIS 10.1 million a year earlier. Revenue fell to NIS 1.64 billion from NIS 2.21 billion, mainly due to construction and real estate transactions, while financing expenses rose. CEO Avraham Novogrocki said the firm is working to establish financial stability, including an offering to buy back bonds that will save NIS 100 million. ‏(Reuters‏)