Business in Brief: Teva Gets U.S. Approval for Treatment of Huntington’s-related Ailment

Stocks end mixed as dollar, euro gain; Indebted Africa Israel Industries sells Negev Ceramics unit; Bank of Israel approves fourth credit card clearing company.

An employee of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries at the company's Jerusalem oral solid dosage plant,    December 21, 2011.
Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Clal Biotechnology weighing IPOs in up to four portfolio companies

Clal Biotechnologies is planning to float shares in two of its units on Wall Street within the next few months and may float two more if market conditions remain favorable. At the front of the line is Gamida Cell, which develops cell and immune therapies for cancer and rare genetic diseases, and BioCancell, which develops novel therapies to treat cancer-related diseases. BioCancell is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, but it will be delisted if it lists its shares on the Nasdaq. Gamida Cell has a “going concern” warning attached to its financial reports at the end of 2016 but has since raised $30 million from investors at a $120 million valuation. Two other portfolio companies in Cal Biotech’s pipeline are Luc Therapeutics, which develops treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders, and Neon Therapeutics, which focuses on cancer immunotherapy treatments. Both are based in the United States. Clal Biotech shares ended up 0.75% at 3.36 shekels (92 cents). (Yoram Gabison)

Indebted Africa Israel Industries sells Negev Ceramics unit

Africa Israel Industries, which is struggling with huge debts, agreed yesterday to sell its Negev Ceramics unit for 335 million shekels ($91.7 million) to the private equity fund Viola Credit and a group of investors led by Yariv Lerner.  The deal calls for rescheduling 260 million shekels of Negev Ceramics’ debt and for the buyers to inject 75 million shekels into the company, but Negev Ceramics;’ creditors are likely to end up with a 400 million shekel haircut from the deal, sources estimated. The sale will give Africa Israel Industries, a unit of Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments, badly needed cash after it announced last month it would not meet a payment on its debt, causing creditors Migdal Insurance and Meitav Dash to call in a 160 million shekel loan. “We are confident that with excellent management, reduced debt and a capital injection, the company can be made stable and prosperous,” Viola General Partner Ruthi Simha said. (Uri Tomer and Michael Rochvarger)

Bank of Israel approves fourth credit card clearing company

Tranzila, which provides e-commerce sites with the ability to process credit card payments securely, will become Israel’s fourth processor of credit card payments after the Bank of Israel yesterday awarded it a license. Tranzila won approval to compete with Isracard, Leumi Card and CAL, as the government seeks to step up competition in the credit card sector, and will probably begin operation in a year’s time, the central bank said. “We believe that the addition of a fourth company into the market will create an alternative for businesses and lead to increased competition, which will bring lower clearing fees paid by businesses, improved service, more innovation and later ... more competition in issuing credit cards,” Banks Supervisor Hedva Ber said in a statement. Clearing charges for businesses processing credit card payments have fallen as the government has introduced reforms and last year average 1.01%, but small businesses pay an average of 1.49% while  big businesses pay 0.84%. (Michael Rochvarger)

Teva gets U.S. approval for treatment of Huntington’s-related ailment

Teva Pharmaceuticals said Monday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug to treat chorea stemming from Huntington’s disease, a fatal degenerative disorder. Analysts forecast annual sales reaching $850 million by 2023 for Teva’s Austedo, according to Thomson Reuters data. Chorea is an abnormal, involuntary writhing movements disorder that occurs in 90% of Huntington’s disease patients at some point in the course of their illness. The company said t the FDA approval was based on results from a late-stage study of the drug, Austedo, in reducing chorea in patients with Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is an inherited condition that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, resulting in a gradual decline in motor control, cognition and mental stability. Teva, the world’s largest generic drug maker, said on May 31 that approval for the drug had been held up by U.S. regulators seeking further blood study. Teva shares finished up 0.9% at 117.20 shekels ($32.08). (Reuters)

Stocks end mixed as dollar, euro gain

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed yesterday as the dollar and euro gained ground on the shekel. The blue-chip TA-25 index edged down 0.04% to end at 1,394.11 points, while the TA-125 added 0.15% to 1,253.97, on 1.34 billion shekels ($370 million) turnover. Insurance stocks were led by gains of 2.5% for Migdal to 24.58 shekels and 2.4% for Clal to 58.40. Israel Chemicals traded quietly, rising 0.3% to 15.23, despite news that Indian companies will bargain for lower potash prices from suppliers like ICL after the government cut subsidies. Frutarom advanced 0.5% to 206.90 after it agreed to buy Rene Laurent of France for $21.3 million. Strauss Group fell 2.1% to 63.80 after institutional investors agreed to buy 200 million shekels in new shares to help finance acquisition of its partner’s stake in its Strauss Coffee unit. In foreign currency trading, the dollar rose nearly 0.5% to 3.6460 shekels and the euro 0.4% to 3.882. (Guy Erez)