Business in Brief

Leumi fined for releasing earnings warning just after public offering

The Israel Securities Authority has fined Bank Leumi and its Leumi Finance subsidiary NIS 2 million each for releasing an earnings warning just days after a public offering. The fine follows an administrative enforcement proceeding by the ISA that concluded this week. The case against Leumi was opened after the bank raised about NIS 2 billion from the public in November last year, a few days before it publicly announced that it expected its earnings to suffer. The ISA opted not to personally fine Leumi's CEO at the time, Galia Maor. The authority said on Thursday that the punishment was light because it believed Leumi and its Leumi Finance unit did not intend to mislead investors.

The ISA noted that the earnings warning was issued just two working days after a public offering of deferred capital notes. The warning stated that the bank's third-quarter 2011 net profits would be substantially lower than the second quarter due to a drop in the value of publicly traded securities - particularly the stake its Leumi Partners subsidiary held in Partner Communications, the cellular firm that does business in Israel as Orange. Leumi said it would take steps to prevent any further violation of the rules. Leumi Finance underwrote the offering in question. (Eran Azran and Reuters )

Supreme Court rejects Koach La'ovdim's bid to represent rail workers

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a petition by the labor organizing group Koach La'ovdim, which claimed that it and not the much larger Histadrut labor federation legally represents Israel Railways workers.

Koach La'ovdim, known in English as the Democratic Workers' Organization, began a drive to sign up railroad workers as members after the Histadrut deposed Gila Edrei in March as head of the local, together with other members of the leadership. The Histadrut claimed Edrei and her colleagues were staging wildcat strikes and refusing to negotiate with the railway management.

Although Koach La'ovdim claimed to have signed up half of the railroad's workforce as members and was therefore the rightful union representative, the labor court had rejected the group's position at the time. The lower court ruled that the law barred a change in representation in the middle of collective bargaining. The Supreme Court last night upheld the labor court's decision. The Supreme Court suggested that the two labor unions settle the matter between them. Last week, the railroad signed a collective bargaining agreement with its workforce through the Histadrut. Tahe justices proposed that after a year had passed following last week's signing, the railroad and the Histadrut would not object if the workers decided to choose Koach La'ovdim as their official representative, but the two sides rejected the suggestion. (Daniel Schmil )


Thousands of iPhone 5s snapped up on first day

The Israeli retailers of Apple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 5, sold thousands of the gadget in its debut here Thursday. Although several companies are offering the device, Pelephone was the only one to provide exact sales figures. Ronit Epstein, who heads the company's end-user equipment division, said that as of 4 P.M., Pelephone had sold more than 2,000 phones at its service centers and other sales points, and through advance registration on the Internet. She said the sales volume for the iPhone 5 was an all-time record for a device's debut. The phone is also available through Cellcom, Orange, Hot Mobile and retailers including iDigital, Mobuy and Super-Pharm via its Lifestyle website. (Amitai Ziv )