Business in Brief

Protalix wins $280 million contract to supply Gaucher’s drug to Brazil

 Protalix Biotherapeutics said it reached a seven-year agreement with an affiliate of Brazil’s Health Ministry to sell it $280 million of its Gaucher’s disease treatment Uplyso.The deal with the Brazilian Health Ministry affiliate, Fiocruz, calls for the Brazilians to buy at least $40 million of the product in the first two years and $40 million annually for the remaining five years. The deal also gives the Brazilians a license to establish their own production plant for Uplyso, which is marketed in the United States and Israel as Elelyso. Protalix worked with Pfizer to develop the drug, and it will have to pay the U.S. company as much $12.5 million from its annual profits generated in Brazil. ‏(Yoram Gabison‏)

Housing minister blasts plan to scrap home-buying grants

Sparks flew in the Knesset yesterday as the State Control Committee took up a proposal to eliminate grants for people buying homes in outlying areas of the country. Nearly everyone, including Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel ‏(Habayit Hayehudi‏), came out against the change while officials from the finance and justice ministries were left to defend it. Ariel took the government to task for policies that he said did nothing to benefit the housing market. But Finance Ministry official Ariel Yotzer countered that the grants may be having the perverse effect of boosting housing prices, discouraging people from moving from the center of the country as intended. Yotzer said the grants appeared to be going to people who had planned to move to the periphery with or without them. ‏(Nimrod Bousso‏)

High-tech leads slump in industrial production

Industrial production dropped between February and April by 6.9% in annualized terms, and much of the decline is attributable to a 19% annualized decline in the high-tech sector, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. Industrial employment as a whole remained unchanged while high-tech employment slipped by just 0.4%, the agency said. Industrial exports fell by an annualized 3.3% but for the high-tech sector the decline was a sharper 17.4%. Domestic industrial sales rose during the period at an annualized rate of 2.7%. A bright spot on the export scene was the sale of services abroad, which were 4.9% higher in April than in March, amounting to $2.7 billion. (Moti Bassok‏)