Bitcoin Looks Like a Bubble, Warns Israel Securities Authority Chief

Business in Brief: Ceragon wins giant Indian order ■ Therapix to begin Tourette's study ■ Leumi, Bank of China to lend to Israeli firms ■ stocks fall after four-day rally

Bitcoin logos at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York, April 7, 2014.
Bitcoin logos at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York, April 7, 2014. Mark Lennihan / AP

In what may have been his last public address before stepping down as chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, Prof. Shmuel Hauser warned about the cryptocurrency phenomenon. “[Bitcoin] looks like a bubble, smells like a bubble, behaves like a bubble and feels like a bubble, which explains the increase from $2,000 to $11,000 in a few months – and then suddenly a 20% drop. The chase after bitcoin reminds me of the 19th-century gold rush,” he told an ISA conference Monday. Hauser noted that this year the value of all cryptocurrencies grew 16-fold, from $18 million to $300 billion. “We need to distinguish between blockchain [technology], bitcoin and initial coin offerings. Blockchain is a legitimate technology that will be a part of our lives,” he said. Regarding ICOs, he said Israel should adopt a “friendly” regulatory approach while ensuring that digital currencies don’t become a vehicle for dubious firms as did binary options. (Shelly Appelberg)

Ceragon rallies after winning giant Indian orders
Ceragon shares soared Monday after the maker of wireless backhaul equipment said it won $66 million in orders from an unnamed customer in India. These orders bring the total orders for Ceragon’s products and related professional services from top mobile operators in India to over $100 million during the second half of 2017, the company said. Ceragon said orders for its IP-20 platform were growing as Indian operators cope with a boom in data usage, a trend it said would likely continue for another two years. Shipments for the latest orders will begin in December, with most of the revenue being booked in the first half of next year. “The receipt of these orders improves management’s visibility and reinforces its confidence in the expectation of a quarterly revenue run rate of between $75 million and $80 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 and into 2018,” said Ceragon, whose shares ended 14.1% higher at 7.58 shekels ($2.17). (Omri Zerachovitz)

Therapix due to begin study of a cannabinoid-based Tourette’s treatment
Therapix Biosciences said Monday it expects to have the results from its mid-stage trial of a cannabinoid-based drug for treating Tourette’s syndrome by the end of March. The treatment is due to begin a Phase IIa study at Yale, where it will assess the drug, which combines a synthetic cannabinoid already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with a fatty acid derivative called palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA. Therapix believes PEA may increase the efficacy of the cannabinoid while lowering the required dosage and reducing adverse effects. “We estimate the opportunity in Tourette’s to be about $1.5 billion in the United States,” Chief Financial Officer Josh Blacher told Reuters. Chief Technology Officer Adi Zullof-Shani said around 200,000 U.S. patients have the condition and twice that number suffer from acute tic disorder. Shares of Therapix, which listed on Nasdaq in March, were up 3.3% at $5.32 around noon in New York on Monday. (Reuters)

Leumi, Bank of China sign deal to grant credit to Israeli firms
Bank Leumi, Israel’s second-largest lender, said it signed a deal with Bank of China to make it easier for Israeli companies to receive financing for their operations in China. Under the deal, Israeli companies operating in China will be able to receive up to $200 million in credit in the local currency, the yuan, through either a credit line to be established jointly between the two banks or with Bank of China providing the credit that is backed by Leumi. Foreign companies with operations in China typically have had difficulty in obtaining credit from local banks, Leumi said. Chairman David Brodet noted that the Chinese market is undergoing major changes, shifting from an export-based economy to one based on local spending. “This change of direction allows foreign companies, including Israeli companies, to penetrate the Chinese economy and market their goods in it,” Brodet said. (Reuters)

Tel Aviv shares post decline after four-session rally
Tel Aviv shares turned lower on Monday after four sessions of gains as the energy and technology sectors fell. The benchmark TA-35 index closed 0.3% lower at 1,466.28 points, while the TA-125 fell 0.35% to 1,334.07, on turnover of 1.14 billion shekels ($330 million). Tamar Petroleum was the standout loser in the oil and gas sector, tumbling 4% to 19.72 shekels after announcing talks to buy part of Noble Energy’s stake in the Tamar gas field. TowerJazz led techs lower, shedding 3% to 121 shekels, while Mazor Robotics dropped 2.15% to 93.94 on reports its CEO was being questioned for alleged insider trading. Teva Pharmaceuticals fell 1.1% to 53.03, but volume leader Bank Leumi advanced 1.2% to 19.93 and El Al Airlines led TA-125 gains on a 3.8% rise to 1.59. Mimun Yashir raised 320 million shekels at 1.9% in a private bond placement, 120 million more than planned. (Guy Erez)