Business in Brief

Arabs account for just 8% of Israel's economy

Israel's Arab population contributes just 8% of the national product and only a tenth of a percent of Israeli exports, despite accounting for 20% of the overall population, according to Tel Aviv University lecturer and economic consultant Ramzi Halaby. Addressing a weekend conference entitled "The Arab Entrepreneur in the Israeli Economy - Barriers and Opportunities," hosted by the business information company BDI, Halaby explained that part of the problem is the financial system's reluctance to support Arab businesses. But he also pointed out that reluctance on the part of businessmen in the Arab sector to give business information makes it difficult to provide them with credit. (Oren Majar)

Mortgage debt rose NIS 1.5b in January

The balance of household mortgage debt rose by NIS 1.5 billion during January to NIS 271 billion, according to figures released yesterday by the Bank of Israel. At the same time, business debt declined NIS 2.6 billion to NIS 776 billion, with net repayment of loans from banks and abroad totaling NIS 5.3 billion partially offset by the issuance of NIS 2.6 billion in new tradable and non-tradable bonds. At the end of January, total household debt stood at NIS 386 billion. In February the business sector, not including banks and insurance companies, raised NIS 2.3 billion in bonds while households took on NIS 3.9 billion in new mortgages. (Moti Bassok)

Unions still planning to shun Turkey for holidays

The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey hasn't impressed company unions enough to convince them to reinstate Turkey as a destination for worker vacations, according to a new survey by Va'adim, which gathers information on the economic and social activity of unions in Israel. The survey found that 75% think it's too early to stop boycotting Turkey, considering the deep animosity held against Israelis in that country, which might take time to resolve. But some of the unions think the boycott should end now, including those at Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Haifa municipality, the Airports Authority, the Hebrew University and Clalit Health Services. (Rina Rozenberg)

REIT 1 buys 60% of Hashmonaim Tower

Real estate investment fund REIT 1 agreed to purchase 60% of Tel Aviv's 100 Hashmonaim Tower for NIS 64 million. This brings the number of its properties to 23 with an overall value of about NIS 2.2 billion, after having bought 15% of Dizengoff Center two weeks ago for NIS 145 million. The acquisition includes the 11-story building's top five floors, its commercial level and its parking lot. (Oren Freund )

Better Place valued at zero by auditors

Better Place has zero enterprise value, according to a determination made by Giza Singer Even at the company's request, requiring it to make a provision against the entire $143 million book value of its operations in Israel. Giza found that the company pays 12 agorot per kilometer for electricity it sells at 55 or 65 agorot per kilometer. GSE expects Better Place to need additional investment of $1 billion by 2022 for charging and battery-switching stations, with an outlook for reaching operational profitability in 2017, a positive cash flow in 2019. (Yoram Gabison )