Business in Brief

Delek Group makes second stab at selling Phoenix Insurance; Talks between Teva, Intec on Accordion Pill collapse; Gamida wins orphan drug status for NiCord; TA-25 ends higher in mixed share market.

Moti Kimche

Delek Group makes second stab at selling Phoenix Insurance

Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group holding company has put its Phoenix Insurance unit back on the block after a planned sale to New York-based Kushner Funding collapsed. The leading candidate to buy the insurer is Fuson Group, a Chinese holding company with 50 businesses ranging from pharmaceuticals and e-commerce to real estate and agriculture. Sources said Fuson executives met yesterday with Delek CEO Asi Bartfeld. Fuson already has a foothold in Israel after it bought Alma Lasers in 2013 for $240 million and it is exploring other investments. Eyal Lapidot, Phoenix’s CEO, however, is reportedly trying to revive the Kushner deal, which would more likely enable him to stay on as CEO, even though the two sides had failed previously to agree on a valuation for the 47% stake in the insurer that Kushner wanted to buy. Shares of Phoenix climbed 1.8% to 11.12 shekels ($2.82). (Michael Rochvarger and Asa Sasson)

Talks between Teva, Intec on Accordion Pill collapse

Talks between Teva Pharmaceuticals and Intec Pharma for Teva to buy exclusive rights to Intec Pharma’s proprietary Accordion Pill Levodopa fell through about three weeks ago, TheMarker has learned. The Accordion Pill is made of biodegradable polymeric films folded to an accordion shape inside a standard-size capsule. Reaching the stomach, the capsule dissolves; the Accordion Pill unfolds and over the next 12 hours releases the drug in a controlled manner. Proprietary Accordion Levodopa, which is due to start Phase II clinical trials now, is being developed to better treat Parkinson’s disease and could have been used to extend patent protection over a key Teva drug, Azilect, which had annual sales of $418 million over the last 12 months. It would have also given Teva an edge in developing other treatments for other central nervous system diseases, an area the company is now focusing on. Intec shares rose 7.2% to a close of 52 agorot (13 cents). (Yoram Gabison)

Gamida wins orphan drug status for NiCord

Gamida Cell, which is developing treatments for blood cancers and hematological diseases, said yesterday that the U.S. government had granted so-called orphan drug designation to its investigational medicinal product NiCord for treating certain forms of leukemia. Gamida Cell said it intended to file for orphan drug status with the European Medicines Agency for leukemia and other indications as well. “Receipt of orphan drug status for NiCord in the U.S. and Europe advances Gamida Cell’s commercialization plans a major step further,” said CEO Yael Margolin. Orphan drug designation provides for various regulatory and economic benefits, including seven years of market exclusivity in the United States and 10 years in the EU. Shares of Clal Biotechnology, which controls 24.5% of Gamia Cell, rose 8.6% to 3.08 shekels (78 cents). (Yoram Gabison)

TA-25 ends higher in mixed share market

Defying a lower Wall Street and a new slump in world oil prices, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index squeezed out a gain yesterday thanks to bank shares. The benchmark index edged 0.08% higher to close at 1,458.66 points, although the TA-100 ended 0.2% lower at 1,277.49 as did most of the market. Turnover was 1.43 billion shekels ($360 million). Mizrahi Tefahot Bank led bank stocks higher, closing up 3.9% at 41.45 shekels. Israel Discount Bank added 1.2% to a 6.30 -shekel close and Bank Leumi rose 1% to 13.49. But IDB Development Corporation extended losses, losing another 7.6% to finish at 1.57 shekels. Jerusalem Economy dropped 3.1% to 11.43 while its Series Yud Gimmel bonds lost 4.4% to raise the yield to 12.5%. Government bonds, however, were higher, with the 10-year shekel bond rising 0.73% to cut its yield to 2.17%. Mobile companies continued lower on renewed competition concerns, Partner Communications leading the way lower on a 4.6% decline to 16.50. (Eran Azran)