Business in Brief: Victory in Tie-up Talks With Carrefour

Teva's Allergan Generics acquisition gets EU nod; Leumi to invest in UK lending website; Shares rise, Bezeq falls.

A Carrefour distribution center in Labenne, southwestern France, February 29, 2016.
AP

The upstart Victory supermarket chain said Thursday it was in talks with Carrefour on the French retail giant buying a stake. Victory, which has 41 stores, said Carrefour executives had visited Israel to inspect the chain last week. Although the structure of the deal has not yet been agreed on, Carrefour would probably buy stock from Victory’s controlling shareholders, Eyal and Avraham Ravid, or through an issue of new shares. Carrefour’s entry would let Victory expand more quickly and lower costs. It also might help finance the Israeli company's acquisition of part of the failed Mega supermarket chain. Victory might take on the Carrefour name as well. Carrefour is one of two multinational food retailers sniffing around Israel. The U.S. supermarket giant Kroger is reportedly weighing a joint bid with an Israeli group for Mega. On Thursday, Victory shares ended 6.1% higher at 34.60 shekels ($8.91). (Yoram Gabison)

Teva Allergan Generics acquisition gets European Union nod
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries said Thursday it had won regulatory approval from the European Commission for its $40.5 billion acquisition of Allergan’s global generics business. Teva said it had agreed to divest certain overlapping molecules in 24 European countries, while in Britain and Ireland it would sell off a majority of Allergan Generics’ business as a free-standing manufacturer and marketer of generics. In Iceland, Teva said it would divest its generics operations while retaining the Allergan Generics business. The approval was a major milestone for Teva, but it still needs to win clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In Washington, however, the American Antitrust Institute said in January that divestments may not be enough to ensure competition in the generics market. Shares of Teva, which expects to gain economies of scale with the deal, finished 3% higher on Thursday at 79.35 shekels ($20.43). (TheMarker Staff)

Leumi to invest $14m in UK lending website
Bank Leumi plans to invest 10 million pounds ($14.3 million) for a 14% stake in the British website Ezbob, which provides loans to small businesses online. Israel’s second-largest bank will make the investment through a fundraising round the UK firm is now conducting at a company valuation of up to 75 million pounds. Although it would be joining investors like Oaktree Capital Management, Leumi has experience in investing in startups like Powermat and Iron Source. Still, the investment by its Leumi Partners unit is relatively risky because the online lending business is competitive and its long-term growth unclear. Ezbob, formed in 2011 by Israelis Tomer Guriel and Sharone Perlstein, employs about 30 people in Israel and London. It has provided 100 million pounds of loans to more than 8,500 businesses. (Michael Rochvarger)

Tel Aviv shares end higher despite big drop by Bezeq
Tel Aviv shares rose Thursday even though telecom giant Bezeq tumbled in heavy trading. The TA-25 and TA-100 indexes both finished the day up about 0.8% at 1,478.61 and 1,269.82 points, respectively, as 1.47 billion shekels ($380 million) in shares changed hands. Bezeq accounted for more than 12% of total volume amid speculation that the Communications Ministry was about to ease regulations on separation of its various business, which would be a big cost saver for the company. But after two days of strong gains that extended into Thursday, the stock suddenly dropped to end 2.4% lower at 8.68 shekels. Energy shares also fell. Among blue chips, Mylan rose 5.4% to end at 186 shekels. Osem lost 0.6% to 79.35 after a shareholder asked the courts to delay a shareholder meeting to vote on the Nestle buyout. In foreign currency trading, the euro lost 1% to a Bank of Israel rate of 4.2451 after the European Central Bank cut interest rates. (Shelly Appelberg)