The Ticker: EZchip CEO Defends Valuation Assigned to the Company in Mellanox Merger

Clal Biotech, Access invest $10 million in U.S. cancer-therapy startup; Tel Aviv shares start quarter with a yawn.

Hagay Frid

EZchip CEO defends valuation assigned to the company in Mellanox merger

EZchip CEO Eli Fruchter yesterday defended the $25.50-a-share price Mellanox Technologies has agreed to pay for his company in an $811-million merger. “A 16% premium isn’t a low price. I originally demanded a premium of 70% but the company’s market value grew in the meantime and Mellanox added more money,” Fruchter told a news conference a day after the merger was announced. EZchip shares were down 0.4%, at $25.06 in New York midmorning local time after rallying the day before. “I knew that one day the two companies would merge. When we saw the consolidation in the semiconductor market we reached the conclusion that the time had arrived to become part of a larger company.” Fruchter said he would stay on for several months to help with the process. Meanwhile, Mellanox revised upward revenue forecasts for the current quarter, saying sales would reach $169 million to $171 million, up from a previous forecast of $165 million to $170 million. Mellanox shares were down 1% at $37.41 in New York.
(Omri Zerachovitz)

Clal Biotech, Access invest $10 million in U.S. cancer-therapy startup

Israel’s Clal Biotechnology Industries and its parent company, Access Industries, joined Third Rock Ventures to invest $55 million in Neon Therapeutics, a cancer-treatment startup based in Massachusetts. Clal and Access, a U.S. holding company controlled by Len Blavatnik, said yesterday they were each putting $5 million into Neon. Neon ‘s NEO-PV-01 is a personalized neoantigen vaccine that has been tested in initial clinical trials partly funded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. “There is mounting evidence that supports the role of neoantigens in tumor rejection,” said Robert Tepper, Neon’s interim chief scientific officer. “Neon Therapeutics aspires to be the leading company focused on neoantigen targeting for therapeutic applications,” he added. In separate news, Clal Biotechnology said yesterday it would not exercise an option to buy Andromeda, which had been developing a juvenile diabetes drug. Clal Biotechnology shares ended down 4.9% at 2.84 shekels (72 cents). (Shelly Appelberg)

Tel Aviv shares start quarter with a yawn

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange welcomed the final quarter of the year with a yawn yesterday, with shares ending mixed albeit on heavy turnover of 1.96 billion shekels ($500 million) despite the short trading. The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 0.2% at 1,488.54 points, while the TA-100 edged up 0.02% to 1,300.60.  Technology stocks were higher on the back of Wall Street’s Wednesday rebound, with Nice Systems up 3.2% at 220.90 shekels. Silicom added 2% to 104.10 after it said it was buying the U.S. company ADI Engineering for $10 million. But cellular stocks extended their losses: Partner Communications (Orange) closed down 4.1%, at 14.91 shekels and Cellcom Israel was off 3.3%, at 27.80 shekels. Protalix led TA-100 stocks down, tumbling 11.4% to 4.59 shekels. IDB Development Corp. was also down sharply for a second day, shedding 5.5% to end at 2.04 shekels. The TASE goes into a long Sukkot holiday weekend and resumes trading on Tuesday. (Shelly Appelberg)