Business in Brief

VC industry sagged amid record exit year; food manufacturer Osem is planning to launch a new international division in an effort to boost sales, the firm reportedly told Bloomberg.

VC industry sags

Israel’s venture capital industry raised only $526 million last year, 28% less than in 2012, even though 2013 was a record year for exits – the best since the dot-com boom. Israel’s 13 venture capital funds aren’t managing to recover from the financial crisis of 2009, and they’re taking in money at a much slower pace than in 2004-2008. However, not all Israeli startups are affected as a result; many manage to raise money from foreign sources.

The phenomenon of micro funds expanded last year.

These funds tend to raise relatively small sums and focus on early-stage startups. Israel’s micro funds raised $124 million last year, which works out to 24% of all money raised by the local VC industry.This means that last year, micro funds accounted for a larger percentage of all VC raised than they did over the preceding three years. Most of the new funds created in 2013 were micro funds, said Kobi Shimana, CEO of research firm IVC.

Only two funds managed to raise more than $100 million apiece last year, said IVC: Vintage Ventures’ sixth fund, which raised $161 million, and the Alef Fund, which raised $151 million. These two funds accounted for 59% of all VC raised last year. In 2012, three funds raised more than $100 million. It’s likely that local funds are hard pressed to raise money of late because of the reputation acquired over the past decade when many proved unable to produce decent returns for their investors. (Amir Teig)

Shekel trading below 3.5 despite bank’s efforts

The Bank of Israel couldn’t manage to shift the shekel’s exchange rate Tuesday, despite sopping up some $100 million in trade. The shekel has been strong lately, and is trading at 3.48 shekels to the dollar – below the symbolic benchmark of 3.50. The exchange rate vis-à-vis the euro also didn’t budge Tuesday from its level of 4.76 shekels apiece. Joseph Fraiman, CEO of investment firm Prico Group, said that without the central bank’s intervention, the dollar could drop as low as 3.20 shekels.(Dror Reich)

NICE announces record-breaking $1 billion year

NICE Systems surpassed $1 billion in bookings for 2013 for the first time in its history, the company announced Monday. “This record breaking year for bookings was made possible by the continued strength in our analytics-based advanced applications,” said CEO Zeevi Bregman, who also credited new products. NICE develops software that enables firms to analyze the large volumes of data they collect. It has more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries, it reports. The company is due to publish its 2013 results on February 5. (TheMarker Staff)

Osem to set up global division

Food manufacturer Osem is planning to launch a new international division in an effort to boost sales, the firm reportedly told Bloomberg. The company believes its growth within Israel is being limited by regulation and rising prices, and is looking abroad to boost sales, Bloomberg reported Monday. The international division would focus on meat substitutes, salads and kosher food in Europe and the United States. Osem is under pressure as Israel’s government seeks ways to cut food costs, which are up 39% since 2005, Bloomberg noted. Osem CEO Dan Propper noted to Bloomberg that direct and indirect taxes account for 27% of the sticker price on the average product. (TheMarker Staff)

TASE indexes close in red

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed mixed with a negative bias Tuesday, as most of the leading indexes closed in the red. The blue-chip Tel Aviv-25 Index lost 0.4% to close at 1,338 points, while the broader Tel Aviv-100 Index lost 0.5% to close at 1,230 points. Technology shares also lost 0.4%, while biomed shares gained 0.7%. Real estate shares gained 0.3%, while oil and gas shares closed nearly unchanged. Total turnover was 1.07 billion shekels, slightly lower than last year’s daily average. Notable shares included pharmaceuticals firm Protalix, off 4.6% after gaining 17% over the past four days, and real estate company Africa Israel, up 3.9%. IDB Holdings lost another 23%, on its way to becoming a publicly traded shell company. (TheMarker Staff) 

TASE
Bloomberg