Business in Brief

Housing cabinet approves Lapid proposals

The housing cabinet led by Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Monday approved the proposals drafted by the so-called “90-days team” to advance government housing. It also approved an urban renewal plan put forward by the Housing and Construction Ministry. The first set of proposals includes setting up a planning committee with far-reaching authority that can override existing master plans and clauses stating when the state can seize land from farmers for construction. These proposals drew criticism from various parties, including Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who said the process should have been coordinated with local authorities. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry was upset that its proposal – that a local authority planning a certain volume of urban renewal projects would be immune from the central government developing new neighborhoods within its borders – was not accepted. The plans are an attempt to increase housing supply and curb skyrocketing home prices. (Nimrod Bousso)

Report: Apple buying its second Israeli firm

Apple has acquired PrimeSense, a motion-tracking company based in Tel Aviv, in a $345 million deal, reported Calcalist on Sunday. PrimeSense is best known for licensing the hardware design and chip used in Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing system for the Xbox 360 from 2010. PrimeSense’s main appeal to Apple is its advanced body-movement tracking technology, a report by technology website Slashgear said, adding that one of its newer implementations, Capri, has the potential to be used in future iPhone and iPad versions. If true, this would be Apple’s second acquisition in Israel, after it bought flash storage chip maker Anobit in January 2012. PrimeSense declined to confirm or deny the report. (Haaretz Staff and Reuters)

El Al, two foreign airlines face class-action

El Al and two foreign airlines - British Airways and Lufthansa - face a class-action suit in Israeli courts for allegedly colluding on ticket prices. The Lod Central District Court on Monday last week threw out a motion to dismiss the class-action motion against the three carriers. The court, headed by Judge Ofer Grosskopf, has not yet discussed whether the class action could proceed, though. The motion is being brought by Hatzlaha, the Consumers’ Movement for the Promotion of a Fair Society and Economy, which accuses the three of acting as a cartel. Hatzlaha is suing the airlines for NIS 613 million, of which El Al’s share is NIS 473 million. The target of the class motion is air freight prices, which was the subject of a global anti-trust investigation revealed in February 2006. Based on those findings, Hatzlaha claims the three airlines coordinated surcharges to the cost of air freight, such as extra charges for fuel and security added on top of the basic air cargo fee. (Zohar Blumenkrantz)

George Soros’ fund buying up Teva shares

Billionaire investor George Soros’ Soros Fund Management bought 1.6 million shares in Teva Pharmaceuticals in the third quarter, 0.18% of the company’s total. The shares are worth a total of $61 million. CEO Jeremy Levin announced his departure in October, drawing a harsh response from the U.S. markets, amid growing concerns over competition to the company’s flagship drug, the multiple sclerosis injection Copaxone. Copaxone sales account for 22% of Teva’s sales and 66% of its profits. Recently, a U.S. court rejected Teva’s request to delay the implementation of a lower court ruling allowing the early expiration of patent protection for the drug. Teva has been one of the worst performers in the medication sector over the past few years. (Yoram Gabison)