Business in Brief

Quarter of private companies don’t file taxes

One-quarter of all private-sector companies in Israel don’t file annual tax statements to the Tax Authority and go unsanctioned, noted the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday in explaining a decision to appoint a subcommittee to fight the shadow economy. The Knesset members had been discussing a report by attorney Eli Or, head of the accounting department at the College of Management Academic Studies and a former Tax Authority official. Or said that some 135,000 privately held companies filed VAT reports, and that 25% of the annual reports that should have been filed with the Tax Authority in 2010 never showed up. “If a company doesn’t submit a report, this is a shadow economy visible to all. Maybe they have something to hide, maybe not,” he said. MK Nissan Slomiansky said it was unfair to be raising personal taxes when a shadow economy worth an estimated 130 billion shekels ($37 billion) was continuing unregulated.

(Zvi Zrahiya)

State to sell off its last shares in Bezeq

The state plans to sell the remainder of its holding in Bezeq on the stock exchange for 144 million shekels ($41 million). Israel’s government holds 0.97% of what used to be the national phone company, which was privatized in 2005. At the time, the Apex-Saban-Arkin group bought a 30% controlling share in the firm. The state has been gradually selling off its Bezeq holdings since the privatization.

(Amitai Ziv)

Legislators reject pro-consumer banking bills

The Knesset plenum shot down two bills that would have blocked banks from charging customers for basic checking account transactions and also would have banned the practice of setting a monthly minimum fee. The first bill was submitted by MKs Gila Gamliel (Likud), Micky Rosenthal (Labor) and Israel Hasson (Kadima), while the second one was submitted by MK Dov Khenin (Hadash). Finance Minister Yair Lapid had said he intended to oppose the bills, but had agreed to allow the matter to be submitted to a vote.

(Zvi Zrahiya)

Business debt up 0.6%, household debt up 0.1%

The business sector’s debt increased by 0.6% or 4.4 billion shekels ($1.26 billion) in November, to 783 billion shekels, while household debt increased by 0.1% to 407 billion shekels, according to figures published on Wednesday by the Bank of Israel. Most of the increase in business debt was in bank debt (4.1 billion shekels) while the remainder was in bond issues. The new debt was offset somewhat by the decreased value of inflation-linked debt. Meanwhile, household debt due to housing – namely, mortgages – increased by 1.2 billion shekels, or 0.4%, to 287 billion shekels as of the end of November.

(Moti Bassok)

Israel’s Solaredge makes Davos run

An Israeli company installed solar panels on the roof of the Davos Congress Center, it reported yesterday. Solaredge stated that it had installed a solar farm producing 400 kilowatt-hours of electricity on the roof of the building. The company develops and manufacturers converters for solar installations, which turn heat into electricity. It says that its system is 25% more efficient than household or midsize commercial installations.

(Amir Teig)

TASE closes slightly down

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange finished yesterday’s trading session with slight losses. The blue-chip TA-25 index closed down 0.1%, at 1,331 points. The broader TA-100 index also dropped 0.1%, to close at 1,228 points. The Banks-5 index shed 0.5%, while communications shares gained 1%. Total turnover was 1.08 billion shekels, slightly under the average as of late. Notable shares included Teva, which lost 1.3% as it completed its first acquisition since the ouster of CEO Jeremy Levin, and IDB Holding Corporation, still volatile as ever, which lost 10.5% as Bank Leumi continued selling off shares it held as collateral from outgoing owner Nochi Dankner. The sale of Dankner’s IDB group essentially left IDB Holding without assets, making it a publicly held shell company.

(Shelly Appelberg) 

Ofer Vaknin