Business in Brief

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Cabinet empowers port privatization

In a blow to unions fighting port privatization, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation yesterday backed a new law that would allow the antitrust commissioner to transfer control of individual wharves to different ownership. The legislation was which was part of a series of measures aimed at increasing compensation across the economy in line with the 2011 Trajtenberg Committee recommendations. The proposal, which must still be voted on by the Knesset, comes days after Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo said he would delcare the state-owned port companies in Ashdod and Haifa oligopolies. ‏(Ora Coren‏)

Attorney plans fund for construction loans

Attorney Yehuda Raveh, whose law office specializes in funding infrastructure and real estate projects, said yesterday that he is establishing a NIS 500 million loan fund for builders. The fund is meant to ease the credit crunch faced by builders and developers because of a ceiling on bank lending. “By the end of 2013 the fund hopes to complete its first round of fundraising, allowing it to begin investing through loans to developers in the real estate market,” said Raveh. “A builder or developer wanting a bank loan now has a very difficult time if he’s not very large, strong and well established.” ‏(Ranit Nahum-Halevy‏)

Economists: Bank of Israel rate to hold for June

Most economists are expecting the Bank of Israel will leave its base lending rate at 1.5% for June when its monetary committee meets today. Two weeks ago the committee cut the rate a quarter percentage point in an unscheduled move aimed at shoring up the dollar against the shekel. Most analysts said yesterday there is no reason for another reduction in the rate because the dollar has begun strengthening and no major new negative factors have emerged to slow growth or raise the employment rate. On the other hand, inflation is forecast to accelerate over the next several months. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem. The central bank is due to decide on July 28 whether to lower its base lending rate from 0.75%.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum