Business in Brief / Elbit Systems Wins Big Helicopter Contract

CollPlant in deal with U.S. partner; Plus500's operating profit falls; S. Shlomo Holdings in spat with land authority; Tel Aviv shares ease.

Gil Eliahu

Elbit Systems said Sunday it had won a 20-year contract from the Public Security Ministry to upgrade and replace police helicopters. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of shekels, the defense-electronics company said. The Israel Police’s six old helicopters, the most ancient of which is 31 years old, are scheduled to be replaced within a year and a half, the police said. (Zohar Blumenkrantz)

CollPlant developing spinal treatment with U.S. firm
CollPlant Holdings said Sunday it had signed a nonbinding agreement with an unnamed American company to develop a product to treat spinal-cord problems and bone fractures. By genetically engineering tobacco leaves, Nes Tziona-based CollPlant develops medical collagen — a key protein in tissue such as tendons, ligaments and skin. Under the agreement, the company will set up a production plant in the United States. The American company will pay CollPlant for license rights and use of the firm’s technology, in addition to payment for setting up the facility. CollPlant shares, which have surged nearly five times over the past eight months, jumped another 3.4% Sunday on the news. (Yoram Gabison)

Online trader Plus500 sees H1 operating profit fall 23%
Online trading company Plus500’s first-half operating profit sank 23% to $55.8 million, while revenues climbed to $127 million from $106.2 million, the company said over the weekend. Second-quarter revenues eased to $44.9 million from $45.5 million. Plus500 has just been bought by Teddy Sagi’s Playtech, a gambling software development company. The results are the first since suspicions surfaced that some of Plus500’s clients have used accounts to launder money; some accounts have been suspended. The London-based company, most of whose operations are in Israel, said it had completed an audit of nearly all accounts at its U.K. subsidiary and found that they met Britain’s anti-laundering requirements. Though analysts say it is difficult to assess the impact of the money-laundering case on revenues, the company’s $823 average revenues per user in the second quarter were 30% lower than for the same period last year. (Assa Sasson)

S. Shlomo Holdings in tiff with land authority
S. Shlomo Holdings’ Shlomo Sixt car-leasing division has vacated land owned by the Israel Land Authority that it allegedly appropriated. The company was accused of taking over the 10 dunams (two and a half acres) next to its car lot in Tsrifin southeast of Tel Aviv about a year ago. Shlomo Sixt allegedly vacated the land but then took over three dunams and fenced it in, leaving only after a complaint had been made to the police. The car-leasing company says it has sealed an agreement with the Israel Land Authority to use seven of the 10 dunams and aims to come to an agreement on the other three dunams. (Raz Smolsky)

Tel Aviv shares edge up in light volume
The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 index inched up 0.19% Sunday to 1,661.26 points, while the broader Tel Aviv-100 ended 0.22% higher at 1,428.78. Volume was a light 441 million shekels ($117 million). The Banks-5 index edged up 0.35% and the Real Estate-15 rose 0.6%. Big gainers included energy stocks, reflected in a 2% jump by the oil and gas index. Among the big losers was EZChip Semiconductor, which slumped 4.4%, and Allot Communications, which declined 3.5%. On the upside, Africa Israel Investments climbed 3.6% and Super-Sol, the country’s largest supermarket chain, jumped 3.3%. The Tel Bond 20 index declined 0.22%, while the Tel Bond 40 and 60 indexes each fell 0.21%. On the foreign-currency front Friday, the shekel fell 0.24% against the dollar, with the representative rate set at 3.777 shekels. The euro rose 0.31%, with the representative rate set at 4.198. “Volatility in the share markets is expected to continue in the short term until the picture regarding Greece’s exit from the eurozone is clear,” Union Bank warned in its weekly survey. (Shelly Appelberg)