Business in Brief

Knesset Finance C'tee opens air freight industry to competition

New customs regulations approved this week by the Knesset Finance Committee will open the air freight industry to competition. After years of delays and discussions - and the intervention of the High Court of Justice - the new rules will go into effect January 1. New air cargo terminals will now be allowed outside of Ben-Gurion International Airport. Until 2008, Maman had a monopoly on such air cargo handling services. Swissport entered the business in 2008 and now has 25% of the market. (Zohar Blumenkrantz )

Cabinet to approve gas infrastructure on Sunday

The cabinet is expected to vote Sunday to establish a seashore installation for receiving natural gas. After failing for two years to find a solution, the cabinet will take the matter into its own hands and approve an expedited plan to solve the worsening gas shortage. The facilities will include offshore platforms, pipelines and an onshore station, all to be planned and approved quickly - in one year instead of the usual three. The plan was formulated by a committee headed by the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, Harel Locker. The state will decide between four options for the onshore gas receiving station. (Avi Bar-Eli and Itai Trilnick )

Garapa B.V. issues buyout offer for Baran Group

Garapa B.V., the Dutch company that owns a controlling 23.5% stake in Baran Group, issued a tender this week for 74.5% of the Israeli engineering company's outstanding stock at NIS 23 per share, at a total potential cost of NIS 146 million. The buyout offer comes on the heels of Baran's announcement Sunday on signing a major collaboration deal with the giant ZTE Corporation of China.The price offered by Garapa reflects a 20% premium over Baran's pre-offer trading price of NIS 19.10 and is 41% higher than the stock's average price over the past six months, although the company's capital equity at the end of the first quarter totaled NIS 242.5 million, which is equivalent to NIS 28.50 per share - 23% over the purchase price. (Shelly Appelberg )

Cisco's NDS acquisition on track despite controversy

Cisco's $5 billion acquisition of Israeli pay-TV smartcard maker NDS is on track despite the emergence of new allegations since the deal was announced. NDS has been accused of using illegal means to undermine competitors, NDS's executive chairman told Reuters. "The due diligence was obviously over when we did the sale and purchase agreement," NDS CEO Abe Peled said on the sidelines of a cyber security conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Asked whether Cisco had sought changes in terms or indemnities, Peled answered: "There is no change since we announced the deal." A BBC documentary broadcast in March, two weeks after News Corporation and private equity firm Permira agreed to sell NDS, alleged that NDS had hired a consultant to post the encryption codes of ITV Digital on his website. (Reuters )