Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Shares Decline Moderately

SEC suspends trading in Willi-Food International; Intercure shares soar after clinical trial; Mellanox wraps up EZchip acquisition.

Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
Bloomberg

SEC suspends trading in Willi-Food International  

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended Nasdaq trading in shares of G. Willi-Food International, the subsidiary of the Israeli food importer Willy Food Investments that is traded on the Tel Aviv exchange. The move by the SEC follows suspicions against Willy Food Investments’ controlling shareholder, Gregory Gurtovoy, whose interest in the company is held through his BGI holding company. Gurtovoy, who denies the allegations against him, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion that he withdrew funds from BGI and Willy Food Investments in violation of the law. He is suspected of fraud and other violations involving large sums. The arrest followed a long investigation by the Israel Securities Authority. G. Willi-Food International, the Nasdaq-traded subsidiary, lost 37% of its value over the past year and has been trading at a market capitalization of just under $50 million. (Eran Azran)

Intercure shares soar after clinical trial 

Shares of Intercure surged 25.8% in trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Tuesday to 45 agorot (12 cents) per share after Regenera, a privately held Israeli company in which Intercure has a 17.5% stake, announced positive second stage clinical trial results for an ophthalmology drug called RPh201. The success, Regenra reported, was followed by preliminary contacts with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over RPh201’s ultimate approval for the treatment of an eye condition called non-arteritic anterior eschemic neuropathy. RPh201 is being developed to restore the sight of patients suffering from permanent damage to the optic nerve. The chairman of Intercure is Yitzhak Peterburg, who is also chairman of the board of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.  Marius Nacht, who holds a major stake in Check Point Software Technologies, is one of Intercure’s investors. (Yoram Gabison)

Mellanox wraps up EZchip acquisition 

Mellanox Technologies completed its acquisition of EZchip Semiconductor on Tuesday, completing one of the largest transactions in the Israeli high-tech sector in recent years. As a result, trading in EZchip shares has been halted. They will be formally removed from the Tel Aviv and Nasdaq exchanges this week. As of Tuesday, all ordinary shares of EZchip will be considered shares in Mellanox, an end-to-end connectivity solution and service provider, in the process handing EZchip shareholders a gain of $25.50 per share at a company valuation of $811 million. The two companies, both of which are based in Yokne’am, announced the transaction in September, but it sparked opposition from EZchip shareholders. After efforts to find a higher offer for EZchip came to naught, shareholders approved the takeover of the fabless semiconductor manufacturer in mid-January. Mellanox has revised its outlook for the 1st quarter of this year upward, projecting revenues after the acquisition of $190 million to $195 million compared to an earlier forecast of $180 to $185 million. (Omri Zerachovitz)

TASE shares decline moderately 

Share prices closed generally down in Tuesday’s trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange as Wall Street opened lower. The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 index slumped by 0.42% to 1,430.23 points while the Tel Aviv-100 index declined by 0.22% to 1,233.37 points. Bucking the trend was the Banks-5 index, which rose 0.64% to 1.275.05, led by shares of Bank Leumi, which were up 1.22% to 13.26 shekels. Trading volume was 982 million shekels ($251 million). Among shares of note were Intercure, which surged nearly 26% (see story above). Modiin Energy’s stock jumped 13.52% to 17.47 shekels. Shares in Mylan pharmaceuticals rose 2.1% to 183.20 shekels. Tower Semiconductor’s stock was up 3.4% on the day to 51.40 shekels, in advance of the company’s annual financial statement due to be released today. Among the losers were the Delek Group which closed at 630 shekels, down 4.26%, and Israel Chemicals, which declined by 2.87% to 15.25 shekels. The Tel Bond 20, 40 and 60 indexes rose between 0.04% and 0.12%. (Shelly Appelberg)