Business in Brief

Tel Aviv stocks dragged down by Russian crisis.

Yael Engelhart

ICL to invest $452m in China phosphate firm

Israel Chemicals (ICL) said Tuesday it would invest $452 million in a stake in Chinese phosphate and fertilizer firm Yunnan Yuntianhua as well as in a new joint venture to operate a phosphate facility in China. ICL will pay $269 million in cash for a 15-percent stake in Yunnan. In addition, ICL’s China subsidiary and a unit of Yunnan will establish a 50-50 joint venture that will own and operate Yunnan’s Haikou Mine Branch Co. ICL said it will invest $183 million in the venture. Yunnan’s parent company is a state-owned enterprise. (Reuters)

Bank of J’lem pursues buyout of Dexia Israel

The Bank of Jerusalem is continuing its efforts to expand, issuing an offer Tuesday to the board of directors of Dexia Israel Bank for a full buyout. If the offer is accepted, Dexia Israel would be merged into the Bank of Jerusalem, making the latter Israel’s sixth largest bank. Dexia Israel trades at a market cap of 507 million shekels ($129.7 million), while the Bank of Jerusalem trades at a value of 494 million shekels. The Bank of Jerusalem is offering 326 million shekels in cash for 60% of Dexia’s shares, and 31% of its own shares in exchange for the remaining 40%. Dexia Israel, part of the global Dexia group, focuses on offering credit to local authorities. Global Dexia has tried to sell the Israeli branch in the past. (Michael Rochvarger)

Petition seeks damages over Dankner’s purchase of Ma’ariv

Board members at Discount Investments approved loans to enable Nochi Dankner to purchase Ma’ariv after Dankner contacted them personally, according to a petition seeking a derivative suit against Discount Investments, its board members and Dankner. The petition is seeking compensation for damages the company and its minority shareholders incurred from buying Ma’ariv. “None of the board members bothered to ask questions in real time before approving the Ma’ariv acquisition and approving the loans, and those who did not intend to approve the fourth loan [to Ma’ariv] acquiesced after Dankner asked them personally to reconsider,” states the petition. The petition was filed in the central district court and is seeking 370 million shekels in damages over Discount’s 2011 acquisition of Ma’ariv. (Nati Tucker)

TASE dragged down by Russian crisis

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed with losses Tuesday, with markets slumping as Russia’s attempt to raise interest rates failed to boost that country’s sinking currency. Local bond indexes dropped by a steep 1.6%, and Israeli government bonds fell as well. Africa Israel and Mirland – two companies with significant real estate holdings in Russia - saw particularly steep losses, with Africa Israel’s share price dropping 8% and Mirland’s parent company Jerusalem Economic Corp. losing 15%, as their bond yields soared into junk territory. The dollar gained 0.4% against the shekel to close at 3.935 shekels. The Tel Aviv-25 Index lost 1% to close at 1,463 points, led downward by oil and gas shares, while the broader Tel Aviv-100 Index lost 1.35% to close at 1,294 points. Bank shares were off 2%, while real estate shares lost 3%. Total turnover was 2.2 billion shekels. (Omri Zerachovitz