Business in Brief: Copaxone Generic Gets European Approval

Ormat reportedly weighing bid for Chevron’s Asian geothermal business.

Ofer Vaknin

Apax, Mivtah Shamir in talks to buy Caesarstone stake from kibbutz

The British buyout fund Apax Partners and the Israeli holding company Mivtah Shamir have been holding talks with Kibbutz Sdot Yam to buy all or part of the kibbutz’s 32.5% in Caesarstone, the maker of quartz surfaces used as kitchen countertops. The talks come after Ceasarstone’s share price has fallen more than 50% since last July following a profit warning and a negative report on the company published by the short seller Spruce Point management, so that Sdot Yam’s stake is now worth no more than about $410 million. The negotiations with Apax and Mivtah Shamir, who were partners in buying and later selling Tnuva, have stalled recently as the kibbutz holds elections for chairman of its economic council probably this Friday. The kibbutz is divided about what to do with its Ceasarstone amid concerns it may continue falling. Ceasarstone shares were up 11.6% to $37.50 in late morning trading local time in New York. (Yoram Gabison)

Ormat reportedly weighing bid for Chevron’s Asian geothermal business

Israel’s Ormat Technologies, a maker and operator of geothermal power plants, is among the companies weighing a bid to buy Chevron’s Asian geothermal assets for a price that could reach as much as $3 billion, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg said the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation, Malaysia’s Corporation, as well as two Philippine geothermal energy producers and the Japanese trading house Marubeni were also weighing offers. Citigroup, which is advising Chevron on the geothermal asset sale, will call for indicative bids by the end of next month. Chevron’s main Asian geothermal holdings are in the Philippines and Indonesia. Its Indonesian Salak fields are one of the world’s largest geothermal operations and supply a power plant with 377 megawatts of total capacity. Shares of Ormat, which declined to comment on the report, ended 0.3% higher at 153.70 shekels ($40.80). (TheMarker)

Copaxone generic gets European approval

Synthon, a Dutch drug maker, said yesterday it won European approval for its glatiramer acetate, a generic version of Teva’s Pharmaceuticals’ best-selling Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug.  Synchon isn’t the first generic version of the drug – a partnership between Momentum and Sandoz launched Glatopa last June – but it is the first that has proven to be therapeutically equivalent in clinical trials. In any case, Europe is not a major market for Copaxone and the Synthon product, like the Momentum-Sandoz generic, is for a 20-milligram dosage while Teva has converted close to 80% of its Copaxone users to the 40-milligram version, whose patent doesn’t expire until 2030. “This version enables users to make use of a better drug by reducing the number of injections by 60% ... We believe patients and care givers will continue to show a preference for using this treatment,” Teva said in response. Teva shares ended down 2.2% at 208.50 shekels ($55.35). (Yoram Gabison)

Drug stocks weigh on Tel Aviv market

Tel Aviv shares turned lower yesterday in very light trading, weighed down by drug stocks The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 0.25% at 1,448.30 points, while the TA-100 lost close to 0,.3% to 1,251.81, on turnover of just 980 million shekels ($260 million). Apart from Teva, Perrigo finished the day down 1.4% at 474 shekels and Opko Health lost 3.4% to 40.20. Other big losers included TowerJazz, which tumbled 4.8% to 42.38, and Allot Communications, which fell 3.3% to 18.59. Bank shares, however, were higher, led by gains of 2.7% for Israel Discount Bank to 6.35 and 1.8% to 13.64 for Bank Leumi. Mannkind jumped 10.4% to a close of 6.32 after it said it would be holding a meeting with analysts next week to discuss commercial plans for its inhalable insulin product. Jerusalem Economy Corporation rose 2.6% to 6.90 shekels, marking a second day of gains amid reports that Summit Real Estate is seeking to gain control of the company. In foreign currency trading, the dollar weakened to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.765 shekels, its lowest in 10 months. (Uri Tomer)