Business in Brief: Bank Hapoalim Gets Approval to Raise Dividend Rate to 30%

ReWalk shares plunge on securities offering; Courts approves class action suit against Shemen, Gabi Ashkenazi; Tel Aviv shrugs off Wall Street gains to end.

Tomer Appelbaum

Bank Hapoalim gets approval to raise dividend rate to 30%

Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest lender, said Thursday it had received approval from the Bank of Israel to raise its dividend payout to 30% of net profit in the coming quarter and would seek to raise the figure to 50%. The bank had been paying 15% since 2013, when it first won approval to restore payouts. A year ago it won approval to raise the dividend to 20%, enabling it to issue some 1.768 billion shekels ($460 million) to shareholders over the four years. CEO Arik Pinto said Hapoalim sees this approval as “an expression of confidence in the financial soundness of the bank.” The approval came six weeks after Banks Supervisor Hedva Ber said Hapoalim and other lenders could increase dividends next year after raising their capital levels to meet regulatory demands. Additional  banks are expected to follow suit. Shares of Hapoalim fell 0.4%% to 22.08 shekels. (TheMarker)

ReWalk shares plunge on securities offering

Shares of ReWalk plunged Wednesday and Thursday on the Nasdaq after the maker of wearable robotic exoskeletons for people with spinal cord injury said it planned a public offering of shares and warrants. A draft prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it would offer 3.25 million units for $3.75 each. Each unit consists of one share and 0.75 of a warrant. Oppenheimer & Company, the sole underwriter, will have an option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the units being sold. The company also preliminary estimated that revenues would reach about $1.4 million for the third quarter and $4.3 million for the nine months. It placed 23 of its devices in the third quarter, of which 13 were reimbursed under insurance policies, and 80 in the nine months, of which 41 were reimbursed under insurance policies. Analyst surveyed by Reuters had forecast quarterly revenues of $1.3 million. Shares of ReWalk were down 27% to $3.25 late morning local time in New York. (TheMarker Staff)

Courts approves class action suit against Shemen, Gabi Ashkenazi

The Tel Aviv District Court Thursday approved a 65-million-shekel ($16.9 million) class action against Shemen and former army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who was the oil-exploration partnership’s chairman. The suit is based on a 2013 report by TheMarker that Ashkenazi and Yossi Levy, Shemen’s CEO at the time, chose not to exercise the warrants they held to buy shares based on inside information. The petition was filed by lawyer Yogev Halfon and a group of Shemen investors. They allege that Shemen gave investors misleading information about exploration work it was conducting off the shore at Ashdod, that turned up a dry well. Minutes of board meetings from the time that were released in March 2014 showed that management was aware of serious problem with the project that were not shared with investors, the plaintiffs allege. Shares of Shemen, which said Thursday it was studying the filing, ended 10.8% higher at 4.60 shekels. (Eran Azran) 

Tel Aviv shrugs off Wall Street gains to end 

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange investors chose to ignore a positive opening on Wall Street yesterday and pushed share prices lower at the end of the trading session. The blue chip TA-25 index finished the day down 0.4% to 1,423.46 points, while the TA-100 lost 0.3% to 1,250.63, on turnover of 1.34 billion shekels ($350 million). Among blue-chip losers, Gazit Globe shed 3% to 35.50 shekels, Bank Leumi 1.2% to 14.63 and Cellcom Israel 2.1% to 28.45. But insurance shares rallied, topped by a 2.6% gain to 44.86 for Clal. Frutaom ended a string of losses to finish 1. 6% higher at 203.50. Foresight closed 1.3% up at 2.37 after it said an unnamed Japanese trading company had agreed to collaborate on marketing the company’s driver-assistance technology in Japan. Elbit System rose 1.1% to end at 378.60. The Bank of Israel kept its base lending rate unchanged at 0.1% for the 20th straight month, as expected. (Guy Erez)