Business in Brief

Africa Israel plans bond buyback to save financing costs; El Al unions warn potential buyers to talk to them first.

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Africa Israel plans bond buyback to save financing costs

Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments said on Monday its board approved buying back up to 400 million shekels ($114 million) of its bonds to save financing costs. The company will pay for the buyback with the 1.25 billion shekels of cash it has accumulated cash from asset sales. Africa Israel bought 1 billion shekels of bond buy-back program announced at the end of 2011 and another one worth 700 million shekels a year ago. Hit hard by the real estate meltdown in the United States, Russia and eastern Europe, the company restructured some $2 billion of its debt in 2010. Africa Israel shares closed up 2.7% at 8.75 shekels ($2.51) in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading. (Reuters)

Pluristem shares tumble ahead of clinical trial release

Pluristem shares tumbled 15.4% to a close of 13.30 shekels ($3.81) in heavy trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading on Monday, a day before the company was due to publish the results of a clinical trial of a stem cell-based treatment for muscle injury. The sell-off comes against the background of share sale by a blind trust operated in the names of CEO Zami Aberman and Chief Financial Officer Yaky Yanay, although the trust was mandated to sell the stock when it hit a certain strike price. The company is scheduled to present the results of trialing using PLX cells to address surgically induced muscle injury at a Tel Aviv conference on Tuesday. (Yoram Gabison)

Mizrahi Tefahot to issue NIS 1.5 billion in bonds

After a long hiatus, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank is bank in the debt market in a big way. Israel’s fourth-largest bank said it plans to sell 1.5 billion shekels ($430 million) in bonds by expanding its Series 35 and 36 debt. The bond rating company S&P Maalot has awarded the new debt an AA Stable rating. Mizrahi’s Series 35 bonds, of which there are now 2.27 billion shekels worth trading, are yielding a low inflation-indexed 0.89% and are due to less than five years. The 640 million in Series 36 bonds, which are linked to inflation, are yielding just 0.21%. Mizrahi bonds have risen 6.6% in the past year. (Eran Azran)

El Al unions warn potential buyers to talk to them first

The workers committee at El Al Airlines warned on Sunday that potential investors in the airline should consult with union officials before they move ahead with their plans. “All potential buyers should learn from the not-too-distant past that the only way is to open channels of communications with the workers will enable them to advance any plans to buy the airline,” the committee said amid reports that Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul, is exploring buying control of El Al. Last year, the private equity fund FIMI had offering to buy a controlling stake on condition that management negotiated a labor agreement that would cut back costs. The talks failed and FIMI withdrew its offer. El Al shares ended 4.5% lower at 5.96 shekels ($1.71) on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Monday.  (Zohar Blumenkranz)

TA-25 takes a dip after Deutsche Bank posts surprise loss

Tel Aviv shares slid lower on Monday after a surprise pre-tax loss of 1.15 billion euros reported by Deutsche Bank for the fourth quarter of 2013 put a sour taste in European markets. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s benchmark TA-25 index was lower most of the day before taking a tumble after 3 P.M. to finish down 1% at 1,328.21 points. The broader TA0-12090 lost 1.2^ to end at 1,228.50. Turnover was 1.3 billion shekels ($373 milion). Among the biggest losers was Bezeq (see story on this page) and Israel Chemicals, which fell 1.9%. Technology shares were also hard hit, with the TA-Technology index down 1.2% at 357.61 and the TA-Biomed index off 2.9%. Clal Biotechnologies fell 4.5% and Kamada ended 4.1% lower. In foreign currency trading, the dollar edged up just over 0.1% against the shekel to 3.4930 while the euro shed 0.28% to 4,7317 shekels. (Eran Azran) 

An El Al plane.Credit: Bloomberg