Business in Brief: Bill Could Pave the Way for New Banks

Regenera announces good Phase 2 results; 2017 deficit target may rise to 2.8% of GDP; 2017 deficit target may rise to 2.8% of GDP.

The Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.
The Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.Credit: Reuters

Bill could pave the way for new banks

Could Israel have a new bank by next year? A new draft law circulated this week significantly scales back the capital requirements for credit unions to 3 million shekels ($775,000). This is significantly less than the Bank of Israel’s capital requirement for small banks, 75 million shekels. The bill, the continuation of the work of the Briss committee for finance sector reform, would permit credit unions to offer all the services that banks offer, aside from extending mortgage loans. The new regulations also seek to regulate gamahim, charitable funds for religious Jews. These funds will now have to have capital of up to 2.5 million shekels, and will be required to report to the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority. (Meirav Arlosoroff)

Regenera announces good Phase 2 results

Regenera Pharma, a privately held Israeli company in which Intercure has a 17.5% stake, announced positive initial results for its Phase 2 clinical trial for ophthalmology drug RPh201. Regenera said the trial was completed and that the initial results indicated that it has met its main goal at this stage, as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — a three-line improvement in the BCVA vision test. RPh201 is being developed for patients with an eye condition called non-arteritic anterior eschemic neuropathy, and is intended to restore the sight of patients suffering from permanent damage to the optic nerve. The trial found that after six months of treatment, four out of 11 patients saw their vision improve by at least three lines, versus only 1 out of 8 in the control group. The chairman of Intercure is Yitzhak Peterburg, who is also chairman of the board of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Intercure closed up 2.8% after a jump in early trading. (Yoram Gabison)

2017 deficit target may rise to 2.8% of GDP

Israel’s deficit target is expected to increase to 2.8% of gross domestic product next year, up from 2.5%. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet next week to resolve the issue, after a meeting scheduled for Wednesday was postponed. Finance Ministry Budgets Director Amir Levy is expected to present the framework of the 2017-18 state budget. Currently, the deficit targets for those years are 2.5% and 2.25%, respectively. Increasing the target to 2.8% would free up an additional 4 billion shekels. Last year’s budget deficit target was 2.15%; this year it’s 2.9%. (Moti Bassok)

TASE follows leading European markets up

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed with gains Tuesday, as did most of the leading exchanges in Europe. Government bonds lost value, some of them sharply, while corporate bonds gained. The blue-chip TA-25 index gained 0.7% to close at 1,445 points, while the broader TA-100 index gained 0.7% to close at 1,258 points. The Banks-5 index gained 1%, while the Real Estate-15 index gained 0.2%. Biomed shares lost 0.9%; this was the only index that closed in the red. Total turnover was 1.41 billion shekels. Notable shares included Frutarom, which gained 5% on high turnover; Elbit Imaging, up 8%; and Elbit Medical Technologies, up almost 15%. (Uri Tomer)

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