TheTicker: TASE Employees Refuse to Work on Nasdaq Tie-up Project

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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.Credit: Bloomberg

TASE employees refuse to work on Nasdaq tie-up project

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange employees escalated their labor sanctions Wednesday, refusing to do any work having to do with the new tie-up with the Nasdaq stock exchange.

As a result, Nasdaq employees who have come to Israel to help with the project, aimed at helping startups make the transition to publicly traded companies, have been forced to work alone.

In instructions issued to TASE workers Wednesday, union representatives claimed the joint venture would lead to layoffs, but the real issue is demands for a considerable pay increase even though the average TASE employee already earns 50,000 shekels ($12,700) a month and is automatically entitled to a 5.6% increase every year. Management has asked labor to end the sanctions.

“It should be stressed that management has promised many times that there will be no change in employment and that no staff will be fired,” management said. (Shelly Appelberg)

CyberArk shares soar after TheMarker says it might be acquired by Check Point

Shares of CyberArk soared Wednesday after TheMarker reported that it was in initial talks to be acquired by fellow Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies.

CyberArk shares were up 20.9% to $45.76 in Nasdaq trading late morning local time. If the rumored deal does go through, it could be the biggest ever between two Israeli companies. CyberArk’s market cap was $1.2 billion before Wednesday’s rally, after its shares dropped 45% in the past 10 months.

Check Point, which has $1.3 billion in cash on its books and has made small acquisitions over the past year to boost growth, is eyeing CyberArk as a major growth engine for the company. Check Point, which has a market cap of $14.2 billion, pioneered the computer firewall two decades ago and is one of the world’s largest cybersecurity firms. Check Point shares were up 0.6% to $12.31. Both companies declined to comment on the TheMarker report. (Omri Zerachovitz)

New Hapoalim COO Ari Pinto may be in line to lead bank after Zion Kenan

Ari Pinto was named chief operating officer of Bank Hapoalim on Wednesday, in a promotion that appeared to be grooming him to succeed Zion Kenan as CEO. The appointment was one of several that of Israel’s biggest lender announced on Monday.

Pinto, who had been head of retail banking since 2013, assumes a post that has not existed at the bank in recent years and will be responsibie for the bank’s back-office operations, personnel, marketing, logistics and regulatory matters, among other things.

Pinto, 55, has been a rising star at Hapoalim for a decade, since his tenure as shop steward drew Kenan’s attention. Kenan’s contract expires in October 2017. It is thought that he may step down before that date — and before having to face issues like the U.S. probe of the bank’s alleged assistance to American depositors in avoiding taxes. Hapoalim shares ended down 0.8% at 19.20 shekels ($4.88). (Michael Rochvarger)

Energy shares lead Tel Aviv lower

Energy shares carried the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange lower Wednesday even as other global markets gains on encouraging trade news from China. The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 0.23% at 1,497.78 points while the TA-100 lost 0.4% to 1,286.37, as 1.43 billion shekels ($360 million) in shares traded hands. Ratio led energy shares lower, falling 4.5% to 25 agorot. Delek Drilling wasn’t far behind, dropping 4.2% drop to 11.09 shekels.

El Al Airlines tumbled 8.8% in heavy trading to end at 2.92. But MannKind Corporation, whose shares went into  free fall last week after Sanofii ended a licensing deal, jumped 16.7% Wednesday to 3.21 shekels. Perrigo advanced 1.7% to 579.70 shekels and B Communications rose 2.2% to 97.82. In the fixed-income market, the price of the government’s 10-year Shahar bond rose 0.2%, leaving its yield below 2%. (Uri Tomer)