Business in Brief

Tnuva poised to file for initial public offering; shares end higher as Crimea tensions ease.

Tnuva poised to file for initial public offering

Tnuva, Israel’s biggest food maker, is expected to filed a prospectus with the Israel Securities Authority in coming days for an initial public offering, although disputes among its controlling shareholders have not been resolved. The IPO will likely include at least new shares equal to 10% of Tnuva and another 15% held by Apax Partners, the British private equity fund that is now Tnuva’s single biggest shareholder. With 25% of Tnuva publicly traded it will be able to enter the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index of biggest companies. However, the kibbutzim that are also major shareholders are still divided over whether they will sell their 23% stake in the company. The IPO comes as Apax continues talks to sell Tnuva to China’s Bright Food, an option Apax prefers over an IPO, sources said. (Yoram Gabison)

Private equity conference slated for London

The Israel Private Equity Opportunity Summit in London tomorrow aims to bring investors’ attention to the acquisition opportunities being created by Israel’s new Business Concentration Law. The conference, sponsored by the UK Israel Business Organization, will include Danny Gillerman, a leading Israeli entrepreneur and former ambassador to the United Nations, as well as Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of the British private equity fund Apax Partners. British funds have been major buyers of Israeli companies, including the $530 million purchase of drip-irrigation maker Netafim in 2011 by Permira and Apax’s acquisitions of Psagot Investment House and food maker Tnuva for a combined $2 billion. The concentration Law requires conglomerates structured as pyramids of companies to trim down, a move that will force them to divest businesses. (Eran Azran)

Osem quarterly net jumps 19% on higher sales

Osem Investments, the maker of Bamba snacks, hummus and hundreds of other food products, said yesterday that its net profit jumped almost 19% in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with a year earlier, due to higher sales, efficiency measures and lower financing expenses. Osem, which is 64%-owned by Switzerland’s Nestle, said profit reached 90.4 million shekels ($26.1 million) in the three months as sales rose 2.4% to 1.04 billion shekels. Osem attributed the rise to the lower cost of the Nestle products it imports and sells due to the appreciation of the shekel against the euro, expansion into new markets and cost-cutting. Osem finished 1.7% higher at 80.20 shekels ($23.11) in Tel Aviv. (Yoram Gabison)

Rotem Amfert CEO warns of danger from strike

Nissim Adar, the CEO of Israel Chemicals’ Rotem Amfert unit, yesterday warned workers that they risked making the company’s dire situation worse by the strike they began last week. “Our position in the market has been hurt. The customers who are expecting to get our products will turn to other sources to buy them,” he said in a letter to employees. He defended the layoffs that prompted the strike by saying global prices had fallen sharply amid stiff competition. Workers have refused to allow the Rotem Amfert plant in the Negev to operate since four employees were called for a pre-dismissal hearing. The company has already laid off 106 staff through a voluntary retirement program. Shares of ICL ended yesterday down 1.3% at 30.12 shekels ($8.68) in Tel Aviv. (Haim Bior)

Shares end higher as Crimea tensions ease

Tel Aviv shares rose yesterday after a three-day Purim holiday break, tracking global bourses rebounding from a steep decline last week as concerns eased over the situation in Crimea. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index ended up 0.2% at 1,376.54, and the TA-100 was up 0.3% at 1,271.49 − but bank, energy and telecommunications shares were mostly lower. Turnover was a light 915 million shekels ($263.7 million). Opko Health finished up 4.2% at 35.54 shekels after Oppenheimer initiated coverage on Friday with an Outperform rating for the stock. LivePerson rose 4.6% to a 41.63 shekel close after the company announced Friday it was increasing its $30 million share buyback program by another $10 million. In the fixed-income market, the treasury’s bond due to 2023 jumped 0.34% to trim its yield to 3.11%, amid expectations that deflation in February might lead to an interest rate cut. The treasury’s inflation-linked bond rose 0.37% to trim its yield to 1.03%. (Eran Azran) 

Nir Keidar