Business in Brief: Sales Surge for China-Israel Car JV

Africa Israel Industries’ creditors call in loan; Tel Aviv shares slip.

Bloomberg

Sales surge for China-Israel car JV

Qoros, the struggling Chinese auto joint venture between Israel’s Kenon Holdings and China’s Chery Automobile, saw sales skyrocket in the fourth quarter of last year, Kenon said on Wednesday. Qoros sold 58% more cars in the quarter than a year ago, although that added up to just 7,600 vehicles, as revenues climbed 95% to $117 million. But that doesn’t necessarily signal the company is finally turning around: An increase of Chinese taxes on cars to 7.5% this year from 5% caused many buyers to purchase cars in the final months of 2016, and Qoros said the average price of its cars climbed 23% from a year ago. The company ended with a loss of $279 million, narrowing from $368 million a year earlier. In all events, the improvement enabled Kenon to narrow its fourth-quarter loss by 56% to $46 million. Kenon shares ended down 4% at 41.53 shekels ($11.48). (Yoram Gabison)

Africa Israel Industries’ creditors call in loan

Ten days after Africa Israel Industries said it would not be able to make the next payment on the debt, two of its biggest creditors said they were calling in 161 million shekels ($44.5 million) of loans outstanding. Migdal Insurance and Meitav Dash, two institutional investors that lent the money in 2013 just before the company ran into severe financial problems, have as collateral shares in its Negev Ceramics unit. But with a 2016 loss of 272 million shekels and a debt pile of 706 million shekels, Negev Ceramics itself is in need of a bailout. Africa Israel Industries, a unit of Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments, has held preliminary talks with the private equity funds Apax and Viola about their buying Negev Ceramics, but they are interested only if a major part of the company’s debt is written off. Africa Israel Industries shares ended down 0.2% at 74.43 shekels (Shelly Appelberg)

Tel Aviv shares slip

Tel Aviv shares ended fractionally lower on Wednesday, weighed down by energy stocks. The blue chip TA-35 index closed virtually unchanged at 1,400.48 points, while the TA-125 ended down 0.12% to 1,252.73, on turnover of just over 1 billion shekels ($280 million). Ratio led the fall in energy shares, shedding 2.1% to end at 2.65 shekels. Delek Drilling finished down 1.1% to 13.15. Mannkind topped losers on the TA-125, tumbling 11.9% to 5.59 shekels. The declines were offset by a 2.2% gain for Israel Discount Bank and a 1.9% rise for Elbit Systems to 414 after it won an $82 million contract from an unnamed Asia-Pacific country. Alrov Real Estate rose 7.35% to 85.49 after turning in a 92% increase in 2016 to 448 million shekels. Mizrahi Tefahot Bank said it expected to raise more than 2.7 billion shekels in a bond offering amid strong demand from investors.  (Guy Erez)