Business in Brief

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Gas prices to rise tonight by 31 agorot a liter

Gasoline prices will climb 4.1% at midnight tonight to NIS 7.83 per liter at the self-service pumps, a 31-agora increase. The rise follows a 9.7% increase in the price of fuel in Europe. The surcharge at the full service pumps will remain 18 agorot per liter. Oil prices rose 4% over the past month, partly due to tensions in northern Africa, driving up the price of refined fuel in Europe, which serves as the basis for determining the regulated price in Israel. The overall price includes a base price of NIS 3.04 per liter, a NIS 0.65 marketing margin, a NIS 3 excise tax, plus 17% VAT, which will reach NIS 1.14 per liter. (Itai Trilnick)

Watchdox raises $12m in private funding

Watchdox, a provider of document security systems for organizations, said it completed a $12 million round of funding it will use to expand marketing. The backers included existing investors such as the private equity firm Blackstone Group, Gemini Israel Ventures and Shasta Ventures, as well as its chairman Shlomo Kramer, who was a co-founder of Check Point Software Technologies. Joining for the first time was Millennium Technology Value Partners, which invested in Facebook and Twitter. Some $35 million has been invested in Wartchdox since it was founded in 2008 by Moti Rafalin and Noam Livnat. Watchdox, which employs 90 people, half in Israel, has developed an application for secure file sharing that allows control over digital distribution and access privileges. The company said that it completed its acquisition of InstallFree, another Israeli company, which was announced in December. (Inbal Orpaz)

Central bank sees home prices rising over next 18 months

Home prices will continue climbing for the next 18 months, Nathan Sussman, head of the Bank of Israel’s research department, said yesterday. But the increase will begin slowing in six months, he told the annual convention of the Chamber of Real Estate Brokers. Sussman noted that prices continued rising sharply in the last quarter of 2012, adding that Israel and the entire world are overrun with investors searching for opportunities despite today’s low return on housing. Sussman’s remarks are consistent with high recent demand for mortgages and the large number of home purchases over the past two months. The industry sees the government as having completely failed in its attempt to deter housing speculation. Although well below a peak of 30% of transactions reached in 2009-2010, investors accounted for 25% of purchases in recent months. (Arik Mirovsky)

New private terminal slated for Ben Gurion Airport

Good news for the jet set: A new general aviation (non-commercial) terminal is planned for Ben Gurion International Airport to replace the Masada VIP Lounge at Terminal 1. A tender for planning, building, and operating the terminal was published Monday, three and a half years after the Israel Airports Authority shelved its previous plans. The IAA has now decided to resurrect the project to keep up with the world’s leading airports, it explained. The terminal will serve private and business-owned aircraft, official guests of the state, and medical patients flying in for treatment. In 2012 the airport counted 4,500 general aviation flights carrying 15,000 passengers. The new terminal will include private hospitality rooms and two duty-free shops. It will provide pall essential services, including customs, and passport control. (Zohar Blumenkrantz)

Cell phone reforms caused 1.41 million Israelis to change providers in 2012

Figures released by the Communications Ministry Tuesday showed that 2012 saw more mobile subscribers than ever change providers. Some 1.41 million users switched providers, a number equal to over half of all churn since 2007. That was a result of the cell phone industry opening up to increased competition last spring and the entry of Golan Telcom and Hot Mobile into the market, which caused almost one million people to change providers in the second half of last year. Subscribers were lured away from their providers by deep discounts and special offers made by providers, including all-inclusive packages for NIS 50 a month. The trend is expected to continue, with fines on contract termination being abolish and the time it takes to change providers cut to just half an hour. In the land line segment, switching providers was far less frequent, with 351,000 changing in 2012. (Amitai Ziv)

Gas station.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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