Business in Brief

Discount cable TV packages unveiled

The long-awaited price reform for cable and satellite television reception has gotten underway, with both Hot Communications and Yes unveiling new basic TV channel packages at reduced rates this week. Yes is offering 16 channels for NIS 129 a month, including Israel Plus, channels 1, 2, 33, Educational 23 as well as the Knesset, Shopping and Children's Channels among others. The subscription comes with the company's ordinary converter that isn't compatible with yesMax recording or video on demand. Hot's basic package costs NIS 149 a month, but says those joining up this month will pay just NIS 129 a month over the next 18 months. Its package includes channels 1, 2, 9, 10, Educational television 23, 24, 33, 99, Hot Music, Hala TV as well as the Shopping, Community Channels and children's channel Zoom among others. (Amitai Ziv )


Chinese business delegation in Israel

A delegation of 13 executives from some of China's biggest companies, among them the president of computer maker Lenovo and real state magnate Ronnie Chan, who heads the Hang Lung group, are arriving this week in Israel to explore investment opportunities. The group is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres today and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer as well as with the heads of companies like Better Place and with Israel Corporation's Idan Ofer. The delegation, which is being organized by the Israeli investment firm Cukierman & Company and the Foreign Ministry, also includes executives affiliated with venture capital funds, communications, Internet and fund management. (Oren Freund )


56% of severely disabled not working

Some 56% of all Israelis ages 20 to 65 with severe disabilities like blindness, deafness, paralysis or memory loss were not employed in 2011, compared with 26% of the rest of the population, according to a report released yesterday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The CBS estimated that about 16% of the population over age 20 have severe handicaps. Among older people (45-64 ) the proportion of people who were not employed - which the CBS defined as those looking for work as well as those not in the labor force at all - was 61% in 2011. Among those with serious handicaps who are working, about 40% make less than NIS 5,000 a month, 10 percentage points higher than the rate for the rest of the population. (Hila Weissberg )

Hapoalim, Mizrahi told to compensate business for failing to catch forged checks

Banks Hapoalim and Mizrahi-Tefahot have been ordered to pay NIS 2.1 million to a company for failing to catch checks written in its name with forged signatures. Judge Avraham Yaakov of the Central District Court ruled last week that the two banks were negligent when their employees failed to see that the accounts manager of the company, a small importer and manufacturer of plastic and glass products, was signing over checks worth NIS 2.7 million to herself and others. The alleged theft was discovered in 2008 when the company was suffering unexplained cash shortages. Yaakov rejected the banks' defense that the company failed to take adequate measures to protect itself, noting that its clerks had allowed 600 checks to be cleared, including six that had no signature at all. (Yasmin Gueta )

Leumi says Internet banking a strategic goal

Bank Leumi is keen to develop its Internet banking business as a "strategic goal," CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach said while launching the bank's Total Digital program. Total Digital will give clients who are already heavy users of Web banking the chance to move entirely over to a virtual branch, exempting them from typical deposit account fees if they use Internet and other direct banking services exclusively. Leumi expects thousands of clients to sign on to Total Digital in the coming year, particularly younger people. Israeli banks have been limited in their online activities by Bank of Israel regulations, but in July the bank said as part of its plan to increase competition that it would let people open accounts online without their appearing at a branch for ID purposes. (Sivan Aizescu )