Business in Brief: Four Groups in Bidding for Willi-Food Parent

Strauss Group profit jumped 149% in the second quarter | MediWound soars after Well Fargo starts coverage | Tel Aviv shares end higher after recovering from midday slump

Gregory Gurtovoy.
Ofer Vaknin

Four groups in bidding for Willi-Food parent

Four groups have made offers for BGI, the holding company that controls food importer Willi-Food. The offers value the company at between $15 million and $20 million, far more than its last market valuation before trading in the shares was suspended. An investor group led by Prof. Yossi Gross, a partner in the law firm Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Company, is offering $13.7 million. Zwi Williger, whose family once owned Willi-Food, is offering $13.5 million, but unlike the other bidders he has said he won’t exercise due diligence rights. A third bid is from Shalom Haim, one of the principals of the food importer  Taaman, who has offered $12 million for 55% of BGI. The fourth is from the U.S. investors Saul Kopelowitz and Nahum Labkovski, for a 51% stake. BGI was put up for sale several months ago after its controlling shareholder, the Ukrainian businessman Gregory Gurtovoy, failed to repay a $9.2-million debt. Gurtovoy is also under police investigation. (Eran Azran)

Strauss Group profit jumped 149% in the second quarter

Strauss Group reported a 149% jump in quarterly net profit on Thursday, boosted by higher sales of coffee and prepared salads. Strauss, whose brands also include chocolate, dairy product, bottled water and salty snacks, reported adjusted net profit of 78 million shekels ($20.6 million) in the quarter, up from 31 million shekels a year earlier. Revenue edged up 5.2% to 1.9 billion shekels but rose 11% excluding the effect of foreign currency fluctuations. “In Israel, our home base, we were able to reduce prices, improve our employee’s conditions ... and we also gained market share,” said CEO Gadi Lesin, a reference to falling sales for Tnuva, the company’s bigger rival. Coffee revenue grew 5.1% to 877 million shekels in the second quarter, and were up 16.9% excluding foreign currency effects. Sales at its international dips and spreads joint ventures with PepsiCo rose 8.3%. Strauss shares ended the day up 2.2% at 62.38 shekels. (Reuters)

MediWound soars after Well Fargo starts coverage

Shares of MediWound powered 24% higher on Wednesday after Wells Fargo initiated coverage of the maker of treatments for healing burns and wounds with an Outperform rating. Analyst David Maris assigned the shares a target price of $13 to $15, a considerable premium on the $7.84 price it was trading at midday Thursday local time in New York after the run-up. The company’s NexoBrid product for treating burns has been approved in Europe and is undergoing clinical trials in the United States whose results are due in the first half of next year. Maris said he expected NexoBrid to be launched commercially in 2019 and could generate annual sales of $250 million. Its EscharEx for chronic wounds is in Phase II clinical testing in the United States. Maris said it would turn into a best-seller, with $500 million a year in sales. Shares of Clal Biotechnology, which controls 45% of MediWound, ended 3.3% higher at 2.80 shekels (74 cents) in Tel Aviv. (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv shares end higher after recovering from midday slump

Tel Aviv shares recovered from a midday slump to end higher on Thursday, paced by telecoms stocks. The TA-25 and TA-100 indexes both finished about 0.2% higher at 1,468.41 and 1,285.92 points, respectively, but turnover was a slim 868 million shekels ($230 million). Bank Hapoalim extended its run-up for a 10th day, gaining 2.2% to 20.96 shekels for the day and 7.8% since August 3. Telecoms stocks were paced by a 2% advance for Cellcom Israel to 29.05 shekels. Partner Communications and Bezeq both ended the session up 1.1%, at 18.63 shekels and 7.48 shekels, respectively. Among blue-chip losers, Israel Chemicals dropped 2.2% to 15.25 and SodaStream was down 2.8% at 112.20. Spuntech led TA-100 shares lower, falling 6.2% to 14.78. ICL’s parent, the Israel Corporation, however, rose 2.2% to 660.80 shekels Net income for the quarter nearly doubled to $81 million from $43 million a year earlier. (Guy Erez)