Business in Brief

New mortgages jumped 35% in May ahead of VAT rise

The value of new mortgages taken out in May jumped to somewhere between NIS 5.4 billion and NIS 5.5 billion, as borrowers rushed to secure loans before the value-added tax rise, banking sources told TheMarker yesterday. The figure represents a 35% increase over the average value of home loans taken out in the previous 12 months, which was NIS 4 billion. VAT rose one percentage point from June 2, to 18%. The last three days of May saw a rush of activity, with applications rising threefold. Nevertheless, the May figure will still be well below the record NIS 5.8 billion in new mortgages taken in August 2012, when VAT rose to 17% from 16%. (Sivan Aizescu )

Liquidators: Better Place shareholders are failing to cooperate

Better Place's controlling shareholders are not cooperating with the company's court-appointed liquidators, the liquidators themselves said in a letter to shareholders and managers yesterday. Attorneys Sigal Rozenrechav and Shaul Kotler said no shareholder had made contact with them, and efforts to meet with them have so far been unsuccessful. They said cooperation from controlling shareholders is critical because Better Place is structured as a series of global companies, most of which had no operational role, whose assets the liquidators are seeking to repatriate to Israel. "There is a growing concern regarding the rapid and spontaneous actions on the part of various parties who are seeking to exploit the situation for their own purposes while ignoring interests of the creditors," the two wrote. (Yasmin Gueta )

Teva cancer treatment getspreliminary EU approval

Teva Pharmaceuticals has moved closer to selling its Lonquex drug for the treatment of neutropenia - a complication of chemotherapy - after a panel yesterday recommended its sale in the European Union. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP ) had recommended that a marketing authorization be issued for Lonquex for the reduction of neutropenia, Teva said. "The CHMP positive opinion opens the way to a final approval decision from the European Commission expected within the next few months," said Teva, the world's largest generics drug maker. Teva, which is stepping up efforts to sell branded drugs, said it was seeking to provide new treatment options for cancer patients, a key area for the company. (Reuters )

Israel's first W hotel to open in Jaffa in 2015

New York-based real estate investment firm RFR Holding and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will open the first luxury boutique hotel under the W brand in Israel in 2015. RFR is investing more than $50 million in the project to convert a 19th-century building that once housed the French Hospital in the ancient port neighborhood of Jaffa into a 125-room hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. Starwood will manage the hotel. The project will also include 38 W-branded residences in a newly constructed wing adjacent to the heritage building in which the hotel is housed. "We have plans for more hotels in Tel Aviv," Aby Rosen, cofounder and principal of RFR Holding, told a news conference. (Reuters )

RFR Holding