Business in Brief: Delek Subsidiaries Mull Merger to Ease Israeli Gas Field Development

Delek Drilling, Avner weigh merger | Harel fails to beat deadline to avoid new exec pay cap | Israel Land Development Co. in tie-up with Chinese builder | Telecom, energy shares carry TASE higher

David Bachar

Delek Drilling, Avner weigh merger to ease Leviathan development

Delek Group’s gas and oil exploration units, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, said Friday they are considering merging to reduce costs, attract new investors and simplify the financing process in developing the Leviathan natural-gas field.

Delek Drilling’s board last week appointed a committee of outside directors to examine the option. Delek Group directly holds 6.1% of Delek Drilling and 8.5% of Avner and through its Delek Energy unit owns 63% of Delek Drilling and 47.5 % of Avner. The companies each hold 15.63% in the Tamar gas field, off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, and 22.7% each of nearby Leviathan, whose development has been delayed by political and regulatory issues.

Reuters

A merger could hurt the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, since both companies are listed on the blue-chip TA-25 index and have significant trading volume. Avner shares finished up 2.4% at 2.14 shekels (57 cents) and Delek Drilling shares rose 6.4% to 6.40. (Reuters)

Harel fails to beat deadline to avoid pay cap

A pay package approved by Harel shareholders for the insurer’s incoming CEO last Tuesday doesn’t exempt it from the new law on salary caps for the financial services industry, even though the vote occurred hours before the Justice Ministry formally published the law, experts said.

Harel shareholders approved a 3.4-million-shekel annual package for incoming CEO Ronen Agassi — well above the new law’s ceiling of 2.5 million shekels ($660,000), or 35 times the salary of the company’s lowest-paid employee. But legal experts said publication of a new law is retroactive to the start of the day it is published, not from the hour it is published, which means Harel will have to revise Agassi’s terms. Ironically, perhaps, Harel was aiming to save money with Agassi, who in addition to replacing two co-CEOs will retain his position as chief financial officer and head of the finance and resources division. Harel shares rose 1.4% to close at 14.50 shekels. (Zvi Zrahiya)

Israel Land Development Co. in tie-up with Chinese builder

Israel Land Development Company said Sunday it was teaming up with a “large and leading Chinese company” that it declined to name to build and finance up to 19 building projects in Israel with a combined value of $3.7 billion.

The projects include what would be Israel’s highest-capacity nursing home, a 60-story office tower in Bnei Brak and 21,500 apartments in the Tama 38 program for expanding and upgrading older residential buildings.

“In the coming years, ILDC will significantly expand its building activity and the agreement with the Chinese company will facilitate that,” said Tomer Katz, vice president of investments and business development at ILDC, which is controlled by the Nimrodi family. The Chinese company will provide 70% of the financing.

The tie-up, which is due to get under way within a few weeks, is in the framework of a new Finance Ministry initiative to attract foreign building companies to Israel to speed up residential construction. ILCD shares ended 6.2% higher at 21.72 shekels ($5.75).
(Eran Azran and Shelly Appelberg)

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Moti Milrod

Telecom, energy shares carry TASE higher

Telecommunication and energy shares led the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange higher yesterday. The benchmark TA-25 index climbed 1% to 1,489.18 points, while the TA-100 added 0.9% to 1,285.18, on fairly low turnover of 455 million shekels ($120.5 million).

Cellcom Israel led telecommunication stocks higher, adding 2% to close at 28.64 shekels. Bezeq and Partner Communications were not far behind with gains of 1.5% to 8.58 and 1.4% to 18.61, respectively.

Among blue chips, Israel Chemicals advanced 2.2% to 17.26 and Bank Leumi rose 1.2% to 13.89. Bank Hapoalim was the volume leader on a 1% gain to 19.76. El Al Israel Airlines, however, dropped 1.45% in heavy trading to 2.98 shekels. 

Biomedical shares traded sharply higher, led by Navideas, which surged 23.2% to 4.86 shekels after it said Friday that it would report “very significant” progress at its Macrophage Therapeutics unit at an investors’ conference Monday. (Shelly Appelberg)