Business in Brief

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Gazit swung to loss in fourth quarter

Gazit Globe, Israel’s largest property company, said yesterday it swung to a 217 million-shekel ($55 million) loss in the fourth quarter of 2014 due to losses from currency-hedging transactions, compared with net profit of 224 million a year earlier. Am accounting loss came from marking to market financial derivatives, mostly currency swaps, of 338 million shekels as the shekel weakened sharply against the U.S. and Canadian dollars and the euro. Rental income in the quarter edged down 1% to 1.26 billion shekels, Gazit said. Net operating income, which reflects the group’s core business, dipped 2% to 840 million shekels, while funds from operations fell 8% to 135 million. Gazit shares ended off 1.5% at 51.77 shekels. (Reuters)

Stock exchange launches new tech index

Seeking to reverse a decline in trading volumes and company listings, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said yesterday it would launch an index of top Israeli technology companies traded around the world. The new A-BIGITech index, launched in cooperation with BlueStar Indexes, will comprise 57 Israeli and Israeli-related tech firms traded in New York, London and Tel Aviv, with a total market value of $75 billion. It aims to tap growth in so-called passive investing, where money managers track indexes rather than individual stocks.Among those in the new index are software firms Amdocs, Check Point Software Technologies, Nice Systems, Mobileye,, TowerJazz and CyberArk Software. Some 41 companies in the index currently trade on Nasdaq, six on the New York Stock Exchange and seven in London. (Reuters)

Bino cuts Paz stake in NIS 321m share sale

Tzadik Bino, the biggest shareholder in Paz Oil, sold 321 million-shekels ($81.9 million) of shares in the company overnight on Monday as he gradually divests his holding to meet the terms of the Business Concentration Law. Bino’s holding company sold the stock in an off-the-floor transaction with Leader Capital Markets to institutional investors for 550 shekels each, a 4.8% discount on the shares’ opening price in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading Monday. Yesterday, the shares closed up 1.4% at 576 shekels. The sale reduces Bino Holdings stake in Paz to 23.06%. By 2019, Bino has to divest his entire stake. (Yoram Gabison)

Bezeq shareholders approve Yes merger

Bezeq shareholders yesterday approved the company’s 1.05 billion-shekel ($270 million) merger with its Yes satellite television unit, thanks to backing for the move by foreign investors. Minority shareholders, the only ones entitled to vote on the matter, cleared the merger by a 65% majority, but Israeli institutional investors were mostly opposed to the measure while foreign institutions supported it. Entropy, which advises investors how to vote on shareholder resolutions, had recommended that its clients oppose the merger, saying the 680 million-shekel cash portion of the purchases was excessive and should be no more than 200 million. Under the merger, Bezeq will buy the 50.2% stake in Yes now held by Eurocom, a company controlled by Bezeq’s controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch. Bezeq shares rose 0.8% to 7.25 shekels. (Amir Teig)

Teva, Israel Chemicals lead stocks lower

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended lower yesterday, with Teva Pharmaceuticals and Israel Chemicals leading the way. Teva, the day’s most active share, dropped 1.6% to close at 246.30 shekels ($62.82) while ICL lost 1.6% to 28.25. The benchmark TA-25 index ended the day off 0.7% at 1,608.61 points while the TA-100 fell 0.6% to 1,407.41, on turnover of 1.73 billion shekels. Nice Systems closed 3.6% down at 232.80 shekels after JMP Securities downgraded the stock’s rating to Market Perform from Market Outperform, and removed its $58 price target. In the fixed-income market, the government’s shekel bond due in 2024 rose 0.3% to reduce its yield to 1.49%. (Omri Zerachovitz)