Business in Brief: Bank of Israel Intervenes as Dollar, Euro Sink

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Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug.Credit: Emil Salman

Bank of Israel intervenes as dollar, euro sink

The Bank of Israel intervened in the foreign currency market yesterday, buying hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign currency after the greenback sunk to as low as 3.85 against the shekel. The buying did the trick and the dollar strengthened to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.8770, a gain of 0.1% for the day. But the euro ended weaker by 0.4% to 4.1056 shekels, its lowest against the Israeli currency in more than 13 years after reports that the European Central Bank will expand its quantitative-easing measures. A Reuters poll of over 50 economists taken this week showed forecasters predict an 80% probability of the ECB announcing further easing at its December 3 meeting — less than two weeks before a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to raise rates from zero for the first time in nearly a decade. The easing in Europe and the tightening in America caused the euro to lose 0.6% against the dollar to $1.05. (Eran Azran)

JEC posts loss, but say worst is behind it

Jerusalem Economy Corporation, the financially troubled real estate company, yesterday turned in a third-quarter loss of 58 million shekels ($15 million), but CEO David Zvida expressed confidence that the worst was behind it. He noted that JEC recently swapped 269 million shekels of debt and raised another 200 million shekels and now had improved cash flow.  Meanwhile, JEC said it was in advanced talks to sell its Woodbine Mall in Canada for $108 million and that its board has approved a debt pact for its Mirland unit. “Today we are ending a stormy year in the life of the company,” Zvida said. JEC said rental revenues dropped by 11% in the quarter from a year ago to 235 million shekels, mainly due to property sales in Canada and Germany. But after a 200-million-shekel equity offering the company has 373 million shekels in cash and another 100 million shekels will be added when it issue bonds to institutional investors. Still, JEC has 714.5 million shekels to repay in 2016 alone, which it hope to cover from cash flow and assets sales. JEC shares ended up 1.5% at 5.91 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

Tel Aviv’s first tech IPO of 2015 fails

Safe-T, whose initial public offering was supposed to be the first technology initial public offering of the year on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, didn’t happen. The company failed to raise the minimum 18 million shekels ($4.6 million) needed to complete the IPO, which had targeted raising 22 million. However, Safe-T, which develops cybersecurity software, attracted only 8.5 million shekels of capital from private investors and 4 million shekels from the public through Clal Underwriting. No institutional investors participated in the offering. As it is, Safe-T had lowered its expectations, planning originally to go public at a $70-million valuation before the money but settling for just $36 million before embarking on its roadshow. The failure marks a setback for the TASE, which has sought to become a home for young technology companies. “I thought investors would focus on the company’s strategy, our customers and the operation we set up in the United States,” said CEO Shahar Daniel. (Omri Zerachovitz)

TA-25 index ends lower, but most of the market posts gains

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s blue chip TA-25 index ended yesterday lower after sinking into minus territory in the last stretch of the day, but most of the market ended higher. The TA-25 finished down 0.1% at 1,560.23 points, while the broader TA-100 added 0.2% to close at 1.349.94, as trading reached 1.53 billion shekels ($390 million). The TA-25 was weighed down by Bezeq, which was the most active stock of the day and finished down 1.4% at 7.96 shekels, and by banks. Bank Hapoalim lost 1.3% to 14.14 and Bank Leumi 1.4% to 20.30. Israel Chemicals lost 2% to end at 18.67 shekels, but Elbit Systems gained 1.4% to 349.80 in active trading. Teva Pharmaceuticals climbed 1.6% to 243.90 while TowerJazz added 4% to a close of 62.50. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year Shahar bond rose 0.21% to lower its yield to 2.1%. (Eran Azran)