High-tech exports drop sharply in three months

High-tech exports dropped during the May-July period, continuing a worrying industry trend as Israel's trade deficit reached NIS 8 billion, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics yesterday. High-tech exports, which make up 43% of manufactured exports, declined at an annualized rate of 22.6% during the three months, extending a sharp February-April downturn when they declined at an annualized 23.7%. The trade deficit is narrowing, the CBS said, reaching NIS 30 billion in the first seven months, or NIS 51.4 billion in annualized terms. Last year the deficit widened to NIS 70.4 billion from NIS 52.2 billion in 2011. Overall exports dropped a seasonally adjusted 8.9% in May-July while imports shot up during May-July at an annualized rate of 8.6%. (Moti Bassok)

Two startups raise a combined $19 million

Two startups separately announced they had raised a total of $19 million. Cyvera, a cyber security based in San Francisco with a research and development center in Tel Aviv, said it raised $11 million to expand its business in a round led by U.S. venture fund Battery Ventures and a U.S. tech company that Cyvera declined to name. Other backers include Ehud Weinstein and Ofir Shalvi, the co-founders of Anobit Technologies. It was the second round of fundraising for the startup after it landing $2.1 million from Blumberg Capital shortly after it was formed in March 2012. OpTier, whose technology helps companies detect and resolve application problems, said it raised $8 million in additional funding from a group of venture capitalists led by Israel's Pitango Venture Capital and also included Viola Group and Gemini Israeli Funds. The company is based in New York City and has an R&D center in Ramat Gan. (Inbal Orpaz and TheMarker Staff)

Israel income tax workers end labor action

Employees at the income and land tax offices ended a two-day work slowdown Tuesday after Yossi Yehuda, the deputy director for human resources at the Tax Authority, agreed to negotiate a collective labor agreement along the same line as the one signed with staff at the Israel Lands Authority. Union leaders called for a break in the slowdown, which was due to expand to include workers in the customs and value-added tax offices next as well as information technology staff. Unions are also asking for 500 new employees to be hired to help with what they say is a rising workload due to changes in regulation from the Economic Arrangements Law passed by the Knesset last month. (Haim Bior)