Business in Brief: Delek in Talks to Sell British Roadchef Unit

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Israel Post workers demonstrating, April 29, 2014.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Delek Group confirmed on Sunday it is in talks to sell Roadchef unit, which operates 28 motorway service areas in 20 locations in Britain to an unnamed European investment fund. The fund has completed the first stage of due diligence and has indicated it wants to go ahead with the acquisition, which values Roadchef at 350 million pounds ($581 million) in cash, sources said. Taking into account debt on Roadchef’s books, the company is worth 200 million pounds and its sale would generate 150 million pounds in cash for Delek, or about 900 million shekels, sources said. The prospective sale is the latest in a string of asset sales by the holding company controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva as it focuses on its massive energy business, mainly the Leviathan and Tamar gas field. Shares of Delek dropped 1.5% to close at 1,280 shekels ($358.14) in Tel Aviv (Michael Rochvarger)

Osem profit rises on higher sales abroad

Osem Investments, the maker of prepared salads and snacks, overcame slumping sales in Israel to end the second quarter with a 9% increase in net profit to 98 million shekels ($27.4million), compared with a year earlier, the company said on Sunday. Overall sales were down 3.2% in the quarter to 1.27 billion shekels, with Israeli sales down 4.8% to 867 million shekels. Osem attributed the drop to the Passover holiday, which occurred in the second quarter this year and in the first quarter of 2013 and cut into sales of bakery products. But sales overseas of hummus and its popular Tivol meat-substitute products climbed 6% to 160 million shekels, Osem said. Shares of Osem edged up 0.2% to close at 79.02 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Yoram Gabison)

Regulators bar executive from discounted price on apartment

The Israel Securities Authority on Sunday blocked the sale of an apartment in the luxury Tel Aviv apartment tower Midtown at a substantially discounted price by one of the developers to one of its own executives. Canada-Israel, which owns 30% of the Midtown project, was told it could not sell the unit at a 25% discount on its listed price of 2.4 million shekels ($670,000) to Ofer Feldman, its deputy CEO for business development. The sale had been cleared by the board of closely held Canada-Israel as well as by its control committee, but the ISA rejected the move saying it was tantamount to paying Feldman additional compensation and therefore violated amendment 20 of the Companies Law. The discount, the ISA asserted, would have to be approved as part of an overall compensation package approved by minority shareholders to be lawful. (Eran Azran)

Second new generic rival to Copaxone seeks FDA approval

A new challenge to Teva Pharmaceuticals’ best-selling Copaxone multiple sclerosis treatment emerged over the weekend as the U.S. drug maker Mylan said its application for a generic version of the drug had been accepted for filing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Mylan is the marketing partner for the Indian pharmaceuticals company Natco, which developed the generic version of Copaxone. It was the second filing for generic Copaoxone in a single week after a team comprising Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Novartis’ Sandoz unit also applied for FDA approval and said it expected to begin marketing it in the first quarter of 2017. Teva has been fighting off potential competition to Copaxone, which is its biggest source of profits, introducing an improved version of the drug whose patent doesn’t expire until 2030. Teva shares finished 0.5% higher at 187.10 shekels ($52.35) in Tel Aviv. (Yoram Gavison)

Tel Aviv shares end mixed amid tech rally

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed on Sunday, with the tech sector rallying but banking, energy and telecoms stocks lower. The TA-25 index ended down 0.3% at 1,400.33 points while the broader TA-100 edged 0.03% higher to 1,264.84, on turnover of 517 million shekels ($145 million). The semiconductor stocks led gains. EZchip jumped 8.7% to a close of 97.45 shekels after it canceled scheduled appearances at upcoming brokerage conferences, sparking talk that it could be an acquisition target. There is “no news but there has been recent speculation that EZCH could likely be an acquisition candidate,” Jay Srivatsa of Chardan Capital Markets told Reuters. TowerJazz finished 5.1% higher at 41.42 shekels after it said that Himax technologies would be using a chip designed by the company's joint venture with Panasonic. Bond prices rallied, too, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond climbing 0.36% to cut its yield to 2.39%. (Shelly Appelberg)

Gas prices down

The price of gasoline fell as of midnight yesterday by one agora to 7.39 shekels ($2.07) a liter for 95 octane fuel at self-service pumps. Gas prices were down 4.9% in Europe last week from the end of July, but the dollar rose 4% on the shekel. (Avi Bar-Eli)

Postal slowdown

Israel Postal Company employees were due to start a labor slowdown this morning to protest what unions say is plans for some 1,500 layoffs. For now, the open-ended slowdown means that service to mail boxes in outlying communities is suspended, except to communities near Gaza. (Haim Bior)

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