Access Offers to Take Clal Private

Source close to Access said Sunday the offer was not connected with Clal's sinking share price or objections to local securities regulation.

Clal Industries' shares soared Sunday after Access Industries, the American holding company controlled by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, offered to buy the portion of the company it does not already own and delist it from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Access said it was offering the holders of 50.1% of Clal's shares NIS 15.80 per share for a total NIS 1.24 billion. The offering price represented a 24% premium on Clal's closing price last Thursday of NIS 12.74, but Clal shares made up most of that difference in trading Sunday, jumping 17.6% to a close of NIS 14.98.

Access, whose holdings range from chemicals to real estate and media businesses, including Warner Music Group, paid NIS 1.27 billion to buy 49.9% of Clal Industries from the IDB Holding Corporation 11 months ago. The stock has since dropped 11.5%.

But a source close to Access said Sunday the offer was not connected with Clal's sinking share price or objections to local securities regulation, which the semiconductor company Mellanox cited for its decision last month to delist its stock from TASE trading.

"[Delisting] is in line with the group's worldwide business strategy," the source said. "The delisting isn't connected with the level of trading in the market or local regulation. Access knows it must inject a significant amount of capital into Clal Biotechnology and that will be difficult to do if [Clal] remains a public company."

Losing Clal Industries would be a blow to the TASE, which has been trying to stem a decline in trading and liquidity and attract more investors.

Besides its 57% stake in Clal Biotechnology, Clal Industries' key holdings are 75% of Mashav, 59% of Hadera Paper and 62% of apparel chain Golf & Co. Ireland's CRH holds the other 25% of Mashav, which controls Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises.

On Sunday, Clal Biotechnology's 52%-owned unit, MediWound, said it was raising $16 million from its shareholders to finance its launching of Nexobrid, a treatment for thermal burns that received European marketing approval last September. Clal Biotechnology would contribute $8.2 mllion..

Meanwhile, a cabinet committee charged with increasing business competition and lowering the cost of living is expected on Tuesday to take up the issue of competition in the cement industry.

At the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, 2011.
Bloomberg