The Ticker: Antitrust Signals Conditions for Yenot Bitan Acquisition of Mega

Treasury toughens dividend standards for insurance companies; Tel Aviv follows world markets lower.

Ofer Vaknin

Antitrust signals its conditions for Yenot Bitan acquisition of Mega

The Antitrust Authority is likely to approve supermarket chain Yenot Bitan’s takeover of rival Mega on condition that it ends its partnership with Bikurey Hasade, Israel’s largest produce wholesaler, the authority told Central District Court yesterday. Yenot Bitan, which would become Israel’s second-largest food retailer if the takeover with bankrupt Mega goes through, has a joint venture called Bikurey Bitan with Bikurey Sade, which supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to Yenot Bitan stores. “Our concerns and conditions were presented to the parties to the transaction and they responded with their counterclaims, which are now being examined, a process that should be completed next week,” the authority told the court, which is supervising the sale of Mega. The authority said it has also wound up an examination about competition issues and was likely to also condition approval on Yenot Bitan divesting of stores in nine areas. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz)

Treasury toughens dividend standards for insurance companies

Israel’s insurance companies face tougher standards for paying dividends under a directive issued on Wednesday by Dorit Salinger, the treasury’s director of capital market, insurance and savings. Salinger said she ordered the changes before the Solvency II standards for the industry go into effect at the start of next year. Under the new rules, insurers can distribute a payout only if its recognized shareholders equity is at least 115% of its required equity. Until now, insurers only needed to show a ratio of 105%, although a ratio under 115% needed approval from regulators before payouts. Salinger is also conditioning future dividends on insurance companies meeting the 130% solvency ratio as required by the Solvency II, a European Union standard Israel has adopted to ensure the financial strength of insurance companies. Salinger acted after Migdal, one of Israel’s biggest insurance companies, declared a 185 million-shekel payout, which she said violated Solvency II standards. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s insurance index ended down 1.4% at 1,160.06 points yesterday. (Assa Sasson)

Tel Aviv follows world markets lowe

Tel Aviv shares ended lower yesterday reflecting major world stock market trends. The benchmark TA-15 index lost 0.6% to end at 1,430.44 points, while the TA-100 fell 0.4% to 1,246.37, on turnover of 1.33 billion shekels ($350 million). That left the TA-25 down 1% for the week and the TA-100 down 0.8%. Among the biggest blue chip losers, Israel Chemicals fell 2.4% to end at 15.86 shekels, Bezeq fell 1.4% to 7.24 and Bank Hapoalim lost 1.1% to 19.11. But tech shares were broadly higher, led by a 1.9% gain for TowerJazz to 49.89 after the semiconductor maker said it made early repayment on $78 million in Israeli bank loans. Perrigo led the most actives, adding 1.7% to close at 390.10. Navidea, Perion Network, Ability and Allot all leave the TA-100 as of Wednesday to be replaced by Neto, Internet Zahav, Gilat and Energix, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said on Thursday. The TA-25 remains unchanged. (Uri Tomer)