The Ticker: Bourse Says Manikay’s SEC Penalty Was No Reason Not to Approve Sale of Stake

Aeronautics chairman steps down amid police probe against company ■ Energean says Kerogen Capital cuts stake in Israel joint gas venture to 30% ■ Pinto replaces six of Hapoalim’s top 11 managers in just three months ■ Banks take Tel Aviv shares higher

A drone model on display at a booth of the Israeli drone maker Aeronautics Group at the Singapore Airshow.
\ STAFF/ REUTERS

Bourse says Manikay’s SEC penalty was no reason not to approve sale of stake 

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said on Sunday it was aware that the New York hedge fund buying a 19.9% stake in the bourse paid a $2.6 million penalty to settle a 2013 U.S. probe into securities violations. Manikay Partners was one of 22 firms that reached a settlement over a 2009 violation of short selling shares within the five days before a public offering while buying shares in the offering itself. Manikay’s founding partners, Shane Finemore and Russel Aboud, subsequently resigned from the board of the Australian Securities Exchange. “The bourse’s professional staff was aware the affair and notified the board as part of the decision-making process,” the TASE said. “Noting the circumstances, including that this was an administrative penalty and that happened some time ago, we do not believe that this prevents [Manikay] from obtaining a license.”  Manikay added that Finemore and Aboud quit the ASX board to avoid any reputational issues. (Assa Sasson)

Aeronautics chairman steps down amid police probe against company

Aeronautics, the Israeli maker of drones whose shares have plummeted amid a police investigation and other woes, said on Sunday that its chairman was resigning. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, a former Israel Air Force commander, is stepping down after six years and is being replaced immediately by Yedidya Yaari, a former Israel Navy commander and CEO of the state-owned defense company Rafael. Aeronautics shares have plunged 40% since it went public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange last June. In August the Defense Ministry temporarily suspended  the company’s license to export Orbiter 1K UAVs to Azerbaijan amid allegations that one of its drones was used to attack an Armenian army position during a live demonstration. In November, the police opened an investigation into the company on allegations whose details are subject to a court gag order. Aeronautics shares ended up 1.35% at 10.48 shekels ($2.97). (Guy Erez)

Energean says Kerogen Capital cuts stake in Israel joint gas venture to 30%

The Greek company Energean said on Sunday that Kerogen Capital had reduced its stake in the company’s Israel unit to 30% from 50%, but that the move didn’t signal the London fund’s concern about the Karish and Tanin gas leases the joint venture holds. The company said it didn’t buy any Kerogen shares, rather Kerogen reduced its commitments for funding the joint venture, which under an agreement the two sides signed a year ago was supposed to include a $50 million upfront sum and its share of future development costs. Energean said the restructuring was done to make development financing more efficient and noted that Kerogen had demonstrated a vote of confidence in the company by buying a 3.6% stake in its London initial public offering in March. Development of the Karish license is due to begin in about a year. Development of the two fields offshore Israel is budgeted at $1.3 billion, of which the two sides have put in $342.7 million to date. (Ora Coren

Pinto replaces six of Hapoalim’s top 11 managers in just three months

Six of 11 managers at Bank Hapoalim have been replaced in the last three months as CEO Arik Pinto readies the lender for a number of major challenges. Among them is the U.S. investigation into accusations that the bank helped its American clients evade taxes, the government-ordered sale of its Isracard credit card unit and a Knesset probe into how Hapoalim and other Israeli banks lent money to failed tycoons. The new appointments include a lot of former regulators, among them Yadin Antebi, a former treasury capitals markets commissioner who is now in charge of financial markets and international banking; Amir Bachar, who was named head of risk, was a Bank of Israel official before coming to Hapoalim eight years ago; and Yael Almog, whose career includes stints as London-based CEO of the International Accounting Standards Board and head of the international division of the Israel Securities Authority, as head of a newly formed stakeholders division. (Michael Rochvarger)

Banks take Tel Aviv shares higher 
Tel Aviv shares ended higher on Sunday following a long Independence Day holiday weekend as bank shares rallied. The benchmark TA-35 index close 0.5% higher at 1,491.82 points, while the TA-125 added nearly 0.4% to 1,351.35, on turnover of 684 million shekels ($194 million). First International led bank shares, gaining 1.6% to end at 75.64 shekels. Hapoalim climbed 1.35% to 24.83. Other big gainers included Nice Systems, which advanced 3.5% to 346.60, and Elbit Systems’ 1.3% rise to 448.30. TowerJazz joined a worldwide drop in tech stocks after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company lowered its forecast for semiconductor market growth to 5% from a previous 5-7%.  TowerJazz shares closed down 6.3% to 94.49, the biggest loser among TA-125 shares for the day. BioCanCell rose 1.1% to 1.27 after Clal Biotechnology sold an 8.8% stake to the Yelin Lapidot investment house. The sale, done at 1.05 shekels a share, was completed to ensure BioCanCell’s public float meets the stock exchange’s minimum. (Guy Erez