Business in Brief: Energy, Finance, Real Estate Pace Tel Aviv Stocks Higher

Israel’s Ability lists on Nasdaq via merger; Africa Israel seeks to assuage bondholder fears over default; TASE bond issues jumped 30% in 2015.

Israel’s Ability lists on Nasdaq via merger

Ability Computer & Software Industries on Wednesday became the latest Israeli company to join the Nasdaq stock exchange, after it was merged into the shell company Cambridge Capital Acquisition Corporation.

The Israeli company, which provides intelligence-gathering technology to governments, was merged into Cambridge in a deal that assigned it a $250-million valuation, but the share was down 8.4%, to $9.16, midday New York time Thursday.

“This transaction elevates Ability’s profile as a Nasdaq-listed company and provides us with new capital and a public currency to facilitate our growth strategy,” said CEO Anatoly Hurgin. Cambridge raised money on the Nasdaq in December 2013, promising to use investors’ money to make an acquisition within two years.

Not all the investors opted to take Ability shares and instead cashed out, but the newly merged company retains about $20 million for acquisitions. Ability is also seeking to dual-list on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, where it is expected to enter the TA-100 index. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Africa Israel seeks to assuage bondholder fears over default

Less than six years after it reached a debt-bailout agreement with creditors, Lev Leviev’s property-development company Africa Israel Investments met with creditors again Thursday to assuage fears about some 3.6 billion shekels ($927 million) in debt going bad.

Executives told a meeting of bondholders that the company would be able to meet its payments and there was no need for a rescue plan, even though its Kof-Vav, Kof-Zion and Kof-Het bonds are trading at 40% to 60% of their par value and at yields of 30%. Leviev, who in the last bailout injected 1.5 billion shekels into the company, did not attend, but Africa Israel CEO Avraham Novogrocki told the meeting that the company’s Russian properties, the source of its troubles, were good despite the Russian economy’s troubled state.

“We have enough time and assets for the business to revive,” he said. Africa shares fell 2.8%, to 2.03 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

TASE bond issues jumped 30% in 2015

U.S. property developers and the Israeli financial service sector were responsible for a 30% jump in the value of bond issues on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange this year, the debt-rating agency S&P Maalot said Thursday. Companies raised a combined 54 billion shekels ($13.9 billion) in 2015, with financial service firms accounting for 40% of the total, up from 26% in 2014 and just 14% in 2013, S&P Maalot said. Seven of the 10 companies to list bonds on the TASE for the first time were U.S. real-estate companies. S&P Maalot CEO Ronit Harel Ben-Zeev said she expected the sectors to dominate the market in 2016 as well, attracted by continued low interest rates and regulatory demands for banks to increase capital. Still, the total value of the bond market did not grow in the past four years, as other sectors have been hesitant to recycle or issue new debt, she said. (Uri Tomer)

Energy, finance, real estate pace Tel Aviv stocks higher

Tel Aviv shares ended sharply higher in heavy trading Thursday, tracking gains by Wall Street on Wednesday. Energy, finance and real estate stocks led the market higher, with the benchmark TA-25 index advancing 1.3% to close at 1,517.44 points while the TA-100 gained 1.1% to 1,307.78, as 2.14 billion shekels ($550 million) in shares changed hands. Israel Chemicals surged 6.5% higher to 17.05 shekels. Parent company the Israel Corporation rode its coattails to close 5.4% higher, at 725 shekels. Evogene led TA-100 stocks higher, rising 9.2% to 28.53, while volume leader Teva Pharmaceuticals gained 1.2% to end at 258.40. Two recent high fliers ended sharply lower: El AL Airlines dropped 4% to 2.69, and Spacecom lost 5.1% to 33.99.  The bond market was quiet, with the government’s 10-year Shahar ending down 0.03% to leave its yield at 2.2%. (Shelly Appelberg)