Business in Brief

Bloomberg

ICL UK unit slates $65 million expansion of polyhalite mine

Israel Chemicals said on Wednesday that it will invest 38 million UK pounds ($65 million) to expand production of polyhalite at a mine in northeast England operated by its Cleveland Potash subsidiary. ICL said it aims to increase production of the mineral, which is used as a specialty fertilizer, to some 600,000 metric tons annually from 130,000 today. CPL, whose Boulby Mine sits on an estimated 1 billion tons of polyhalite, is only the company in the world producing the mineral commercially, selling under the name Polysulphate. “Over the last two fertilizer seasons we began to introduce Polysulphate into agricultural markets …. We have been very encouraged by farmers’ positive reaction, which indicates a potential to sell hundreds of thousands of tons,” said CPL Managing Director Phil Baines. CPL received 4.9 million pounds of UK government aid for the project. (Yoram Gabison)

Melisron in talks to buy half of Tel Aviv food mall 

Melisron, the shopping mall developer and operator controlled by Ofer Investments, is in talks to buy at least half of the Sarona Market food retailing and restaurant complex being developed on Tel Aviv’s Ha’arba Street by Gindi Holdings. Gindi values the project at 530 million shekels ($151.8 million), but sources close to the talks put it at a more modest 350 million to 400 million shekels. Melisron will also take an option to buy the other half of Sarona Market at a later date. The complex, modeled after Eataly in Turin and La Boqueria in Barcelona, is currently under construction and slated to open in the summer, housing 85 gourmet food stores as well as cafes and restaurants. Melisron shares fell 0.8% to 92.86 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz, Michael Rochvarger and Raz Smolsky)

New products boost Radcom’s sales, profit margins

Radcom, whose products are used by telecom companies to monitor customer-service experience, reported a big increase in revenues and a return to profitability after it launched its MaveriQ product. The company said revenue climbed 20% in the first quarter from a year ago to $5.5 million, while it turned around from a loss a year ago to a profit of $110,000. Gross profit margins widened to 68% from 61% a year ago, with the company saying that MaveriQ could increase the figure over time to 75%. “Although the MaveriQ, our software-based product, was released just two months ago, it already accounts for the majority of our sales,” said CEO David Ripstein. “Our shift from being a hardware company to a software company will continue to improve our margins, reduce our inventory and decrease the average time lag between bookings and revenue recognition.” Shares of Radcom were up 4.9% to $6.65 at midday yesterday in New York.
(TheMarker Staff)  

Tel Aviv shares take bumpy road lower as Wall Street falls

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index bumped lower most of the day yesterday before falling off a cliff at the end of the session as news of Wall Street’s downturn emerged. The benchmark index ended down 0.9% for the day at 1,392.49 points, while the broader TA-100 lost 0.8% to close at 1.271.33. Turnover was just over 1 billion shekels ($290 million). Among the big losers were Teva Pharmaceuticals, which reversed course after a Tuesday rally to end 1.2% down at 179 shekels, and Israel Chemicals, which fell 2.8% to 29.76 shekels. Harel led insurance stocks lower for a second day, declining 2.9% to 20.18 shekels on news the Health Ministry wants to shake up the medical insurance sector. Elbit Sytems fell 0.3% to 208 shekels even though it reported winning a $123 million contract from an unnamed European country for defense electronic systems. Avgol was the biggest loser among TA-100 stocks, dropping 3.4% to finish at 3.84 shekels. Cellect Biomed rose 5.1% to 1.21 shekels after its board approved a 15 million-shekel private placement with an unnnamed investor. (Dror Reich)