Business in Brief

Mizrahi to sell record NIS 3 billion in bonds; ten firms manage 75% of all portfolios; Scailex debt plan calls for 50% haircut; Noble Israel names CEO; Wall Street pushes TA-25 index into minus.

Eliyahu Herkowitz

Mizrahi to sell record NIS 3 billion in bonds

Mizrahi Tefahot, Israel’s fourth-largest bank, said on Tuesday it expects to raise about 3 billion shekels ($831 million) in what would be the largest ever bond issue in the Israeli capital market. It said it had already received commitments worth 2.8 billion shekels from institutions and it expects to raise another 200 million shekels from the public. Mizrahi Tefahot, which has raised nearly 6 billion shekels in 2014, said it was taking advantage of all-time lows in Israeli interest rates. The bank is issuing a new series of inflation-linked bonds, rated AA+ due between September 2015 and September 2021 and pay 0.41% plus inflation. Mizrahi shares fell 0.5% to a close of 44.55 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Reuters)

Ten firms manage 75% of all portfolios

Ten companies manage three quarters of all the investment portfolios in the country, the Israel Securities Authority said in a first-ever report on the issue on Tuesday. The ISA said that as of the end of June, some 120 companies managed portfolios – investment accounts valued at least 200,000 shekels ($55,100) personally managed for clients – with 246 billion shekels of assets. Of those, the ISA termed 17 of them large managers, which had 212 billion shekels under management. All told, about 84,000 Israelis have portfolio accounts, but 75% of the portfolio management companies have fewer than 500 clients while 4% have 5,000 or more, the ISA said. About 40% of the assets are managed for institutional investors. Of the remaining 60% that are managed for individual investors, half have 5 million shekels or more in their accounts. (Asa Sasson)

Scailex debt plan calls for 50% haircut

Bondholders in Scailex, the holding company once controlled by failed telecom entrepreneur Ilan Ben-Dov, are being offered a debt plan that would force them to write off half of the value of their securities. The plan, presented on Monday, would convert most of the company’s unsecured debt into shares and the rest converted into a new issue of inflation-linked bonds totaling 220 million shekels ($60.6 million) carrying 2% interest. Shareholders would lose everything, but Yaakov Luxembourg, who holds the biggest share of the bonds as well as warrants, will now become Scailex’s biggest shareholder with a 32% stake, cementing his already unofficial control of the company. Scailex shares jumped 9.1% to 12 agorot in Tel Aviv. (Shelly Appelberg)

Noble Israel names CEO

Noble Energy, the American operating partners in the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields, on Tuesday named Binyamin (Bini) Zomer to replace Lawson Freeman as Israeli CEO and country manager from October 1. Zomer, 41, a lawyer by training, joined Noble Energy Israel in 2010 following the discovery of the Tamar field and has served as director for external relations and partnerships. Prior to joining Noble he served as vice president for policy and government at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington DCand as legal counsel to Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles. Freeman will be moving to the company’s Houston headquarters, where he will be vice president of business development. (TheMarker)

Wall Street pushes TA-25 index into minus

Wall Street pulled the rug from under Tel Aviv on Tuesday, with declines in the United States causing the TA-25 index to fall into negative territory late in the session. The benchmark index ended down 0,2% at 1,423,84 points, while the TA-100 dropped 0.3% to 1,285.42 on turnover of 1.04 billion shekels ($290 million). Clal Biotechology plummeted in heavy trading, ending down 45.5% to 4.40 shekels, a day after it reported that a deal to sell its Andromeda unit was being cancelled. Avgol declined 5.2% to a close of 3.27 shekels. On the positive side, Mazor Robotics led TA-100 stocks higher, advancing 6.2% to 27.97 shekels after it reported that China’s Food and Drug Administration had approved the company’s Renaissance surgical robot. In the fixed-income market, the price of the government’s 10-year shekel bond dropped 0.46%, while its inflation-linked bond due in 2023 fell 0.3%. (Dror Reich)