Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares Sharply Lower as China Sets Off Global Selloff

Zim delaying IPO planned for first half; Teva, Active Biotech halt higher doses of oral multiple sclerosis drug in trials; Frutarom buys half of algae-tech startup.


Tel Aviv shares sharply lower as China sets off global selloff

Tel Aviv shares followed world stock markets lower on Monday amid worries about China’s economy.  The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 and TA-100 indexes both fell 1.1% to close at 1,524.10 and 1,314.05 points, respectively, in heavy trading of 2.2 billion shekels ($560 million). China’s major stock exchanges tanked on Monday following the release of a key purchasing managers’ index that showed the economy was weakening. “The latest figure weighing on markets in China could be pointing to a sharp decline in growth that would lead to a deep global economic crisis, or it could just be another bump on the road, but definitely not signaling a crisis in China,” said Shmuel Ben-Arye, head of investments at Pioneer Group. “Right now, we’re all operating in the dark.” Technology and energy shares were hit hardest. Perion Network led TA-100 shares down, tumbling 13.5% to 12.21 shekels, while gas companies Avner and Delek Drilling were down 4.5% to 2.35 and 4.3% to 12.07, respectively. El Al Airlines lost 4.4% to 3.01 shekels. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Zim delaying IPO planned for first half

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is delaying an initial public offering on Wall Street it had reportedly slated for the first half of this year amid a slowing IPO market and global trade. Zim was also discouraged by an unsuccessful offering by the German shipping company Hapag Lloyd in November, which was delayed twice and finally went ahead at a lower price than planned for fewer shares. The shipping company, which is 32%-owned by Kenon Holdings, never formally announced its IPO plans but didn’t deny it had retained a group of investment banks to prepare one. Under the terms of a 2014 debt-bailout plan under which creditors swapped $1.4 billion of debt for shares, Zim is required to go public.  Zim reported a third-quarter operating profit of $34 million, turning around from a loss of $251 million a year ago, but revenues were down 12.3% to $749 million. Kenon shares ended down 3.7% at  38.52 shekels ($9.83).  (Yoram Gabison)

Teva, Active Biotech halt higher doses of oral multiple sclerosis drug in trials

Teva Pharmaceuticals and Active Biotech said Monday they would discontinue higher doses of their oral drug in development for multiple sclerosis in two trials, citing the occurrence of nonfatal cardiovascular events in eight patients. Both trials of laquinimod will continue with the lower dose of 0.6 milligrams daily where there were no issues. Teva and Sweden’s Active Biotech said a monitoring committee had identified an imbalance in the number of cardiovascular events in patient trials using 1.2 mg and 1.5 mg daily doses. “Teva is notifying trial sites to discontinue the higher doses immediately in both trials and will encourage participants to continue follow-ups,” it said in a statement. Through a licensing agreement, Teva has global rights to develop and commercialize laquinimod, a small-molecule entity discovered by Active Biotech. Teva shares ended down 0.2% at 255.30 shekels ($65.13). (Reuters)

Frutarom buys half of algae-tech startup

Frutarom, one of the world’s largest flavoring and specialty natural ingredient companies, said Monday it was investing in algae to enhance its food and cosmetic products. The company said it paid 10 million shekels ($2.56 million) for half of the kibbutz-based biotech startup Algalo, which uses light to more efficiently cultivate, harvest and process a variety of algae. The algae yield strong antioxidants, lipids and proteins that can help cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as bone structure, Israel-based Frutarom said. The algae-based ingredient market is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars and has grown at double-digit rates in recent years, Frutarom CEO Ori Yehudai said. “We foresee the rapid growth in this market continuing in coming years in light of consumer trends toward healthier and more natural products,” he said. Frutarom shares ended down 2.7% at 202.80 shekels. (Reuters)