Business in Brief / Unions Breaks Off Talks With Israel Chemicals

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Workers from the Dead Sea Works protest outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 1, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Unions breaks off talks with Israel Chemicals

The labor crisis at Israel Chemicals took a turn for the worse on Tuesday as the Histadrut labor federation broke off talks with management over plans to lay off scores of employees. The unions turned to the National Labor Court, which is expected to convene the two sides in order to end a strike that has shut down two ICL units, Dead Sea Work and Bromine Compounds. In response, ICL announced that “negotiations have ended.” The talks collapsed after union leaders Avner Ben-Senior and Armand Lankri rejected the company’s demand that any agreement reached allow it to fire underperforming workers: Labor insists that all staffing cuts be achieved on a voluntary basis or through early retirement. Management expressed surprise the union ended negotiations. “We were under the impression there had been progress on several issues,” said an ICL executive who asked not to be identified. Shares of ICL fell 0.3% to 27.71 shekels ($7). (Haim Bior)

Alon moving toward selling stake in U.S. unit to Delek

Alon Group has made significant progress toward a deal to sell a 48% stake in its Alon USA unit to the U.S. unit of Delek Group. The two sides agreed that the sale portion of the transaction, which will value Alon USA at $1.1 billion, will be one-third to two-thirds in cash and the rest in Delek US stock. The cash segment would help improve Alon Group’s liquidity, which is being pressured by its ailing Mega supermarket chain. Dallas-based Alon USA, which first disclosed the possible sale at the end of March, owns oil refiners in Texas, Louisiana and California and is the largest 7-Eleven licensee in the United States, with some 300 convenience stores in central and west Texas and New Mexico. In related news, Alon Group’s board late on Monday approved a plan to move forward repayment of about one-quarter of its 2.2 billion-shekels ($560 million) in Series Alef bonds by about three months in exchange for increasing the rate of interest. Bondholders have until Thursday to approve. Shares of Alon USA were up 2.6%
at $18.88 late morning local time in New York. (Michael Rochvarger)

Nano Dimension unveils 3-D printer

Nano Dimension on Tuesday unveiled its first 3-D printer, called Dragonfly, that makes prototypes of printed circuit boards in a matter of hours. Unlike conventional 3-D printers that create simple objects from plastic, Nano Dimension’s printers create multilayer printed circuit boards using a patented process and the company’s conductive nano-silver inks. Dragonfly is a prototype, the company said, that it plans to test with selected customers before moving to commercial production. The printer is aimed at electronics companies who want to accelerate the time between designing a new PCB and putting into production. “We expect that beyond the advantage of time and cost savings in the development process, our printer will lead to a fundamental change in the global electronics industry by developers to make innovations that can’t today because of high prototyping costs,” said CEO Amit Dror. Nano Dimension shares dropped 1.6% to end at 4.25 shekels ($1.07). (Dror Reich)

Shares pull back from record high

Tel Aviv shares Tuesday pulled back from a record high closing the day before, weighed down by a lower Wall Street. The benchmark TA-25 index finished 0.6% lower at 1,678.92 points, while the TA-100 lost 0.65% to 1,473.91. Turnover was 1.63 billion shekels ($410 million). Teva Pharmaceuticals and Bank Leumi pressured the TA-25 lower, with declines of 2% to 260.70 shekels and 2.4% to 14.51, respectively. Osem dropped 3% to close at 81.71 after Leumi Capital Markets said the shares’ rally has made them too expensive. Analyst Gil Datner cut them to a Market Underperform and a target price of 65 shekels. Elbit Systems led TA-100 stocks higher, advancing 2% to 299.20 shekels. In the fixed-income market, the government’s shekel bond due in 2042 rose 0.12%, cutting its yield to 2.47%. In the foreign currency market, the dollar retreated after rising sharply on Monday, with the Bank of Israel rate set at 3.984 shekels after a 0.7% decline. (Eran Azran) 

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