Business in Brief

Bloomberg

S&P: Cellphone companies won’t be able to restore old profitability levels

Investors in the veteran cellphone companies Cellcom Israel, Partner Communications and the Pelephone unit of Bezeq should not expect them to return to the levels of profitability they enjoyed before the industry was opened to more competition in 2012, Standard & Poor’s Maalot said in a report yesterday. “We believe that some moderation in cellular market competition will begin in the medium term. [But] we assume that the cellular companies, Partner among them, will not reach the levels of profitability they enjoyed before the entry of new operators,” S&P said, although it affirmed Partner’s ilAA-/stable rating. Partner is entering new areas, such as landline telephony, is cutting costs and (unlike its rivals) has completed most of its investment in its fourth-generation network, but the company faces tougher regulatory scrutiny. Partner fell 1.3% to close at 26.01 shekels ($7.40) in Tel Aviv. (Amitai Ziv)

ZBI turns into 3D-printing firm after merger

ZBI, a shell company controlled until recently by the Ukrainian oligarch Alexander Granovsky that is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, completed a merger with closely held Hyrax Technologies yesterday, thereby turning it into a player in the emerging 3D printing industry. Under the merger, which included issuing $1.5 million of new shares, ZBI will become the sole owner of Hyrax, which is developing a 3D printer used to make printed circuit boards. Hyrax’s four shareholders, who include CEO Amit Dror, will own 37.5% of ZBI while ZBI’s inside shareholders will hold 30.2%. The merged company will be renamed Nano Dimensions. Shares of ZBI, which once owned the men’s suits maker Bagir, soared 25.7% yesterday to close at 18 agorot (5 cents) in Tel Aviv. (Eran Azran)

Delek Energy worth 75% above market cap

Delek Energy is worth 75% more than what Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group is offering to take private, said David Boaz, who was retained by minority shareholders to assess the tender offer, yesterday. Boaz, a former treasury director general, valued Delek Energy at 20.9 billion shekels ($5.95 billion) or 4,063 shekels a share. Shares of Delek Energy finished 1.2% lower at 2,326 shekels in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading. The tender offer is the latest of five Delek Group has made since 2005 in a bid to delist the company, each time meeting stiff resistance from minority shareholders. The 2005 offer was for 172 shekels a share. In addition to protesting the price, the shareholders have also asked the Israel Securities Authority to investigate what they allege is irregular trading in Delek Energy shares as well as in shares of its Delek Drilling and Avner units (Yoram Gabison)

Bank shares carry TA-25 index lower

Banking and energy shares led the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange lower yesterday amid concerns about slowing economic growth and the expiry of the latest Israeli-Hamas cease-fire. The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 0.55% at 1,397.87 points on turnover of 1.06 billion shekels ($300 million). The index suffered a steep drop in the early afternoon, which traders attributed to either selling by a single big institutional investor or speculators in the derivatives market. The TA-100 dropped 0.3% to 1,236.16. Leading bank shares lower, Bank Hapoalim ended down 1.6% at 19.85 shekels and Bank Leumi was down 2% at 13.46 shekels. Energy declines were paced by drops in Delek Drilling and Avner, which finished down 2.2% to 19.03 shekels and 2.6% to 3.39 shekels, respectively. (Eran Azran)