Business in Brief

Ofer Vaknin

UBS tags Israel Chemicals shares a Buy

After seeing its shares plunge 40% over the past year, the investment banking unit of UBS has finally decided the time has come for investors to buy Israel Chemicals shares. In a report issued yesterday, UBS analyst Roni Biran upgraded the stock to a Buy from a Neutral, saying the stock could reach 31.50 shekels ($8.42) in the next 12 months, close to 25% above its current value. Biran said the share’s price had fallen to the point where it fully discounted for the challenges facing the company, including the likelihood that the government’s Sheshinski committee will recommend that ICL pay higher royalties for exploiting Dead Sea minerals. He said the panel will probably soften the positions it took in its interim report and that much of the impact will be offset by efficiency measures. Against that, he warned, the demand for potash, ICL’s key product, hinges on the health of global economies. Despite the endorsement, ICL shares edged down 0.2% to 25.29 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Eran Azran)

Vintage raises $144 million for new fund

Vintage Investment Partners, a Herzliya Pituach-based fund that invests in venture capital funds, said yesterday it had raised $144 million for its seventh fund. Vintage said it would put about half the capital in Israel VCs and the rest in European and American funds, marking a change in strategy that until now had been to invest mostly in Israeli VCs. The change reflects the growing presence of foreign VCs operating in Israel, rather than any change in attitude toward Israeli high-tech, Alex Feld, Vintage’s founder and managing partner, told TheMarker. “Israel has a lot of attractive opportunities, especially in first-round investments,” he said. Vintage said it had planned to raise $100 million but increased the amount due to strong interest from investors. The seventh fund brings total assets under management to $850 million. (Inbal Orpaz)

Biomeds lead shares lower ahead of holiday

Tel Aviv shares ended lower yesterday as deepening concern over the health of the global economy dragged shares in Europe and Japan lower. A Wall Street rebound came too late for the TASE, which closed early for the four-day Sukkot holiday. The TASE’s benchmark TA-25 index finished down 0.75% at 1,433.24 points while the TA-100 lost 1% to end at 1,277.29. Turnover was a somewhat heavy 1.04 billion shekels ($280 million). Biomed stocks paced yesterday’s decline, encompassing both blue chips like Teva Pharmaceuticals, which plunged 2.9% to end at 187.50 and Perrigo, which dropped 2.5% to 544.90 as well as smaller stocks like Mazor Robotics, which skidded 5.1% to 21.63 and Pluristem, which lost 4.8% to 10.85. But Protalix tracked its New York share price higher, adding 7.7% to 8.90 shekels. The government’s 10-year shekel bond advanced a sharp 0.55% to trim its yield to 2.09%. (Dror Reich