Business in Brief

Court orders ex-finance minister Hirschson to pay tax on stolen money

Faced with the question over whether former Finance Minster Abraham Hirschson had to pay taxes on funds that he was convicted of stealing from the National Workers’ Labor Federation, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Tuesday that indeed he did have to pay the tax.Judge Magen Altuvia rejected Hirchson’s position that the tax was not owed because the ex-minister returned the money to the union. Altuvia ruled, however, that Hirschson, who was released from prison in January, did not owe a penalty for his failure to issue tax receipts on what he stole. “Does the tax assessor really expect Hirschson to have tax reports on his theft?” the judge asked. Hirschson was convicted in 2009 on four counts of theft of more than NIS 1.7 million while he was chairman of the labor union. He was sentenced to five years and five months in prison and fined NIS 450,000, but was released after his sentence was reduced by a third. ‏(Yasmin Gueta‏)

Industrial production slumps in three-month period

Industrial production in the three months through the end of January slumped by 4.2% in annual terms, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday. However, for last year as a whole, industrial production, which is one of the most important engines of the economy, grew by 4%. When it comes to the data for November through January, the drop in production was felt across much of the industrial sector. It sank by 5.1% among high-tech businesses, for example, although for 2012 it rose by 9.3%. And high-tech exports actually increased for the three months by 3.7% and by 12.8% for all of 2012. ‏

(Moti Bassok‏)

Terra Venture Partners raises $20 million for second fund

Terra Venture Partners announced on Tuesday that it had completed its initial efforts to raise $20 million for its second fund, adding that it expects to ultimately raise $50 million. The investors in the new fund include an American investment fund and a Brazilian bank. In 2007, Terra Venture Partners raised $25 million for its first fund. Terra said the new money will not necessarily be invested in its core field, start-up clean technology companies, but instead will be directed to Internet and mobile technology projects that have a positive influence on the environment. ‏(Inbal Orpaz‏)

Vasona Networks raises $12 milion in second financing round

The Israeli start-up Vasona Networks, which develops optimization products for the cellular communications industry, said Tuesday that it raised $12 million in new capital. The round, the second for the company, was led by Bessemer Venture Partners of the United States, which was joined by two funds that had participated in Vasona’s first round − New Venture Partners and Vodafone Venture. All told, Vasona has now raised $21.8 million. The company was founded in 2009 and employs a staff of 20 at its development center in Israel.

‏(Orr Hirschauge and Inbal Orpaz‏)

Value of private equity deals fell 10% last year

Israeli private equity transactions were collectively worth $2.6 billion last year, a decline of 10% from NIS 2.9 billion in 2011, according to a report on Tuesday from the IVC Research firm. The number of private equity deals also slumped last year to 46 from 63 the year before, although the average deal size was greater. Fully 39% of the total private equity investments last year stemmed from a single transaction, the billion-dollar acquisition of a controlling interest in Paradigm Geophysical by Apax Partners and JMI Equity. The average transaction last year was $56.2 million, the report said, higher than the $45.6 million figure for the year before. ‏

(Orr Hirschauge and Shelly Appelberg‏)