Business in Brief


Leumi rejects IDB Holding’s request to postpone NIS 36.6 million payment

Bank Leumi rejected IDB Holding’s request that it be allowed to delay a NIS 36.6 million payment, tightening the noose around Nochi Dankner’s struggling conglomerate. IDB reported to the stock exchange yesterday that it had asked “a bank, its second largest lender” − meaning none other than Leumi − to defer a NIS 36.6 million payment due May 5. The bank said no. “The payment will be made in keeping with the debt restructuring to be approved by the court,” IDB added. IDB owes the bank a total of NIS 100 million, and owes another NIS 1.8 billion to bondholders and NIS 160 million to Swiss bank Credit Suisse. Leumi recently came under fire after TheMarker exposed a deal that included forgiving NIS 150 million in debt to Dankner’s private holding company Ganden. ‏(Michael Rochvarger‏)

Clal union poised to declare labor dispute

Clal Insurance’s brand new union is already looking to declare a labor dispute. Yesterday the union, recognized by management three months ago, informed its sponsoring body, the Histadrut Labor Federation, that it wants to declare a labor dispute over changes in the employment terms for support center employees. The workers are being forced to move into the building’s basement as of today, but the company has not prepared a proper work environment there, they claim. They’re being forced to work unpaid overtime, and a manager of Clal’s technical support subsidiary also told employees not to complain to the union, they add. In addition, they note that the company has canceled bonuses and the annual party, but that the company’s budget allocates NIS 38 million in bonuses to management. Once a labor dispute is registered, the workers are permitted to launch labor sanctions within 14 days. ‏(Tali Heruti-Sover‏)

Israeli startup SkyGiraffe raising money from major Silicon Valley fund 500 Startups

Israeli startup SkyGiraffe is raising money from investment fund 500 Startups and Israeli entrepreneur Yuval Neeman, who led the development of NET for Microsoft. SkyGiraffe is developing technology that enables organizations to make internal data easily available on portable devices. The company, which participated in the second round of Microsoft’s Israel accelerator program, already has several paying customers, and is close to balancing its operating cash flow. 500 Startups, founded by Dave McClure, is considered one of Silicon Valley’s most influential investment funds. ‏(Orr Hirschauge‏)

Deputy minister: Investment law may be revised

The Finance Ministry is considering revising the Law for Encouraging Capital Investment, Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy told the Knesset plenum yesterday. “It’s infuriating that 70% of benefits went to four companies, and options for changing [the law] will be examined,” he said, though he also expressed concern that multinational corporations would flee abroad if Israel didn’t make itself attractive enough for them. In 2010, Teva, Israel Chemicals, Intel and Check Point received NIS 4 billion in tax benefits but paid only NIS 1.4 billion, TheMarker reported this week. The issue has been especially sensitive given the harsh cuts in the planned state budget for 2013 and 2014. The public is disappointed, noted MK Uri Maklev. ‏(Zvi Zrahiya and Ora Coren‏)

A/C subsidy program put on hold

If you were hoping the government was going to help you buy a new air conditioner to replace your energy eating clunker, you may have to wait for three more years. The proposed budget for 2013 and 2014 calls for delaying the plan to cut Israel’s greenhouse gas emissions by three years, and that includes a plan to subsidize the replacement of 45,000 low-efficiency air conditioners. That plan, publicized only last week, would have subsidized new, energy efficient air conditioners for people getting rid of older, inefficient ones. The government previously subsidized new refrigerators for consumers under a similar program. ‏(Itai Trilnick‏)