Business in Brief

Sales of investment homes spiked in April, ahead of tax hike

Sales of homes held for investment purposes spiked in April, before a blanket exemption from betterment tax on the sale of such homes was set to expire. According to a Finance Ministry report released yesterday, sales of rental housing throughout the country jumped 38% from March. Sales in Be’er Sheva climbed 65%. A relatively large percentage − 35% − of all the homes were bought buy first-time homebuyers. Sales to young couples in Be’er Sheva doubled from the previous month. Overall the number of home sold in April rose 15% from March, reversing a 25% drop in the previous three months, the report said. (Arik Mirovsky)

Current-account surplus grows three-fold in quarter

Israel posted a current account surplus of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2013, more than three times the two preceding quarters and the highest in nearly three years, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. The CBS attributed the surplus to a sharp narrowing of Israel’s merchandise trade deficit from the previous quarter, $1.35 billion. In its services trade, which includes the sale of startup companies to foreign companies, widened by some $500 million to $3 billion. Foreign direct investment reached $3.9 billion, marking a turnaround from a small net outflow in the final quarter of 2012. Portfolio investment by foreigners surged to $1.8 billion, most of it going into government bonds. (TheMarker Staff)

Property & Building sells landmark Chicago building

Property & Building Corp, a unit of Nochi Dankner’s IDB group, said yesterday it signed an agreement to sell the Barneys building in Chicago for $154 million. The six-story building, located in a downtown area of Chicago known as the Gold Coast, is home to the iconic menswear retailer Barneys New York, among other tenants. Property & Building bought the building just over two years ago for $122 million, but less than a year later the company was already trying to sell it for between $150 million and $160 million. The brothers Jacky and Marc Schimmel, who brokered the deal, will apparently also get about NIS 100 million in fees for brokering the sale as well as the sale of the HSBC building in New York City, which is slated to be sold for $750 million. (Shelly Appelberg)

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