Business in Brief

Daniel Bar On

Elsztain in China for talks over Adama-related financing

Eduardo Elsztain, the controlling shareholder of IDB group, is in China this week to iron out two key finance issues with China National Chemicals Corporation (ChemChina), its joint venture partner in the agro-chemicals company Adama. The two sides are discussing how Adama will finance its planned purchase of four Chinese companies after a failed attempt to raise capital last year from an abortive initial public offering. Adama is supposed pay $324 million for the four businesses plus assume $300 million in debt. Meanwhile, IDB’s Discount Investment Corporation unit is due to start paying a hefty 7% interest on a $1 billion loan it got from ChemChina in 2011, saddling the heavily indebted company with 230 million shekels ($57.8 million) in extra financing costs every year. Discount’s options are to repay the loan by Ocotber 2018, recycle it or hand over its 40% Adama stake to Chem China. (Michael Rochvarger)

Babylon charts new course as tech investor

Babylon, whose free Internet software business collapsed last year after losing a key contract with Google, said yesterday it was charting a new strategic direction as a high-tech investor and announced its first investment. Babylon said its board had approved a new strategy that calls for investing the 100 million shekels of cash it holds in mobile digital media companies in Israel and abroad. The company said its first investment would be in the newly formed U.S. instant-gambling company GameIn30, in which it would take up to a 42% stake – half now and half after the startup achieves certain milestones or by the end of the year, whichever comes last. If Babylon opts not to invest the second half of the amount, its stake will remain at 33%. Babylon shares closed up 6.2% at 2.14 shekels. (TheMarker Staff)

Willi-Food CEO quits after 3 months on job

Just three months after he took the helm at food importer G. Willi-Food, CEO Emil Budilovsky is stepping down in what sources told TheMarker was an angry dispute over the role of the brothers Zwi and Joseph Williger in the company. The two continue to serve on Willi-Food’s board even after they sold the company last year to the Ukrainian tycoon Alexander Granovsky. In a letter to Granovsky, Budilovsky complained that he was given so little notice about his impending firing that he opted to quit instead. He joined the Willi-Food board last May when Granovsky bought control of the company after a career in Russian and Ukrainian real estate Gil Hochboim, who was CEO in the three years before Budilovsky was named to the post last December, will resume his role, the company said. Meanwhile, Granovsky faces trouble from creditors, with Russia’s Alpha Bank winning from a Ukrainian court on Sunday a temporary restraining ordering barring him from selling or transferring any of his assets while the bank tries to wrest control of them. Willi-Food shares fell 0.2% to close at 16.44 shekels. (Eran Azran)

TA-25 pulls back from record close

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended lower yesterday, pulling back in tandem with the Nasdaq from record highs the day before. The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 0.6% at 1,526.59 points while the TA-100 lost 0.4% to 1,355.35, on turnover of 1.5 billion shekels. Among the biggest losers in the TA-100, Ormat dropped 3.1% to close at 130.30 shekels and Elbit System 2.3% to 253.20. Volume leader Teva Pharmaceuticals slumped 1.2% to close at 225 shekels after it reported it was selling its Sellersville, Pennsylvania facility to G&W Laboratories to streamline operations. Teva didn’t reveal the price but the market estimated it was on the low side of $50 million. Africa Israel rose 1.4% to 3.88 shekels even though the rating agency Midroog cut the company’s bond to a Baa1 from an A3. In the fixed-income market, the government’s Shahar bonds due in 2024 dropped 0.22% to raise their yield to 1.66%. (Eran Azran