Business in Brief: After Ehud Barak, Another Ex General Joins Medical Marijuana Company

Marijuana company InterCure hires Maj.Gen. (ret.) Nitzan Alon as CEO of Canndoc subsidiary ■ Shufersal spends heavily to expand new Be drugstore chain ■ Tel Aviv Stock Exchange shares decline

FILE PHOTO: An employee inspects the leaf of a cannabis plant at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel, on March 21, 2017.
\ NIR ELIAS/ REUTERS

InterCure names ex-IDF general as CEO of marijuana unit

It seems the medical marijuana company InterCure is becoming addicted to brass. In September it named Ehud Barak, the former army chief of staff and prime minster, as its chairman and on Thursday announced the appointment of Maj.Gen. (ret.) Nitzan Alon as CEO of its Canndoc subsidiary. The move comes as Israel’s medical marijuana industry gears up for newly legalized exports. “Alon, 54, has proven management experience of more than 30 years in large and complex systems operating in a dynamic and variable environment with multiple interfaces,” the company said. Alon served as head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate for three years, following stints as head of the army’s  Central Command and the elite special operations force Sayeret Matkal. In July he was tapped to head efforts  to combat the Iranian threat. InterCure, a health care holding company, bought Canndoc in September. It plans to expand the medical marijuana company’s production twentyfold, to 100 metric tons, over the next 18 months. (Guy Erez)

Shufersal spending heavily to expand its new Be drugstore chain

Shufersal is spending heavily on its newly acquired drugstore chain in a push to place new stores in the best locations and challenge market leader Super Pharm. Israel’s biggest supermarket chain spent 130 million shekels ($36 million) nearly two years ago to buy the ailing New Pharm chain and renamed it Be. Since then Shufersal has discovered that New Pharm’s chief problem was the poor sites of most of its stores and is now prepared to spend top dollar to quickly acquire the best new locations. One industry source expressed skepticism about the strategy, saying that the 250 shekels a square meter it was paying for a site in Tel Aviv’s Gan Ha’ir mall couldn’t be justified financially. “For that store to break even it will need turnover of 1.5 million shekels a month, but the average for a New Pharm store was just 650,000. Even if they increase turnover 30% it won’t be profitable,” he said. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz and Yoram Gabison)

Playtech shares surge on buyback offer

Playtech shares rallied in London after the Israeli gambling software developer said it would buy back shares worth 40 million euro ($45.34 million) and forecast core earnings to rise at least 15% for 2019. Playtech said it expects 2019 adjusted earnings before income, tax, depreciation and amortization to be between 390 million and 415 million euros. The profit range includes a positive impact from Sun Bingo, which had losses in 2018. The company posted adjusted core earnings of 343 million euros in 2018, 7% higher than a year earlier, boosted by its acquisition of Italian betting and gaming firm Snaitech and growth in regulated markets. The number beat Morgan Stanley’s consensus of 329 million euros. Shares of Playtech, which last month said it would pay 28 million euros under a settlement with Israeli tax authorities following an audit of its accounts, closed up 8.7% at 400 pence. (Reuters)

Wall Street leaves Tel Aviv lower for first time in five sessions

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange marked its first decline in five sessions Thursday after a weak Wall Street opening pressured shares lower. The TA-35 and TA-125 indexes each ended down 0.53% at 1,569.92 and 1,428.72 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.8 billion shekels ($500 million). B Communications led TA-125 shares down, falling 4.3% to 16.39. Its Bezeq subsidiary dropped a more modest 2.4% to 3.22. Wireless providers were also down sharply, Partner Communications by 3.6% to 16.44 and Cellcom Israel by 3.5% to 16.79. Phoenix led insurance stocks lower, falling 1.65% to 20.81, and Isramco paced losses in energy on a 2.2% drop to 40 agorot. Medical marijuana company Together lost 0.8% to 5.86 after its three co-CEOs sold a combined 160,000 shares at 5.61 shekels each. It was their third share sale in three months. Kerur led TA-125 gainers on a 3.1% rise to 94.78. (Eran Azran)