Business in Brief: Euro Falls Below 4 Shekels for First Time in Nearly 15 Years

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The euro sculpture in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.Credit: AP

Euro falls below 4 shekels for first time in nearly 15 years

The euro fell below 4 to the shekel for the first time since February 2002 on Wednesday even as the dollar pulled bank from record highs. The European currency lost 0.2% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.9941 shekels and had edged down to 3.9904 in late trading. The dollar, meanwhile, strengthened close to 0.7% to 3.8300 and gained further in late trading to 3.8256. Although the shekel hasn’t been affected, the greenback has been going from strength to strength since Donald Trump’s November 8 election victory on the widespread conviction that Trump’s policies will boost the U.S. economy. The euro, which touched a 14-year low on Tuesday, rose 0.4% to $1.0430, but many analysts see the dollar rising further, possibly to parity with the euro. Although the Bank of Israel doesn’t base its exchange rate policy on the euro, a weakening European currency spells trouble for Israeli exporters because the Europe in Israel’s biggest overseas market. (Guy Erez and Reuters)

Spacecom to buy Boeing satellite to replace ill-fated Amos 6

Space Communications said Wednesday it was buying a telecommunications satellite from Boeing Satellite Systems International and hopes to have it in orbit in 2019. The company said it would pay $161 million for the satellite, dubbed Amos 17, which will provide service to the growing satellite-service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe for 15 years after its launch. “It will be a catalyst for Spacecom’s growth plans over the next decade,” a company statement said.Spacecom last year lost contact with its Amos 5 satellite, which was launched in 2011 to provide coverage to Africa. Amos 6, which was made by Israel Aerospace Industries, was due to replace it, but was destroyed in an explosion at Cape Canaveral in Florida two days before launch. Although SpaceX was responsible for the explosion, Spacecom said it might award the company the Amos 17 launch. Shares of Spacecom finished up 5.4% to 25.84 shekels ($6.75). (Guy Erez)

Cornerstone set to become TASE’s 19th U.S. property company

Cornerstone Properties was on its way to becoming the 19th U.S. real estate company to list its bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, after it completed the institutional tranche on Tuesday of a 280 million-shekel ($73.2 million) issue. The sale drew orders of 850 million shekels, leading Cornerstone to increase the total offer from the 250 million it had slated in its prospectus. Interest on the debt was set at a relatively low 4.9%.  Bonds of the three other property companies with the same A1 rating as Cornerstone trade at yields of between 4.2% and 5.5%. Cornerstone, which is controlled by Chairman Jorge Lopez and Leon Wolfe, operates in southern Florida and has a $1.2 billion portfolio, mostly of affordable housing. Most of the proceeds from this issue, about $40 million, will be used to meet payments on an agreement Cornerstone reached last year to buy $80 million of property assets from Stuart Meyers, who cofounded Cornerstone with Lopez in 1993. (Eran Azran)

Tel Aviv shares lose ground amid sagging U.S., European markets

Tel Aviv shares fell Wednesday, although most losses were limited, as European and U.S. markets posted declines. The TA-25 and TA-100 indices both ended down about 0.4% to 1,460.20 and 1,275.91 points, respectively, in thin trading of just over 1 billion shekels ($260million). Mannkind, whose shares soared close to 32% on Tuesday, pulled back 11.7% Wednesday to finish at 2.84 shekels.  Other big losers were Industrial Buildings, which shed 3.9% to 4.74, The Israel Corporation, which ended down 2.5% at 599, and Perrigo, which lost 1% to 323.30. Among gainers, Cellcom Israel rose 1.9% to 31.10. Inrom Construction dropped 3% to 12.85 after the FIMI private equity fund sold a 17% stake in the company at 12.50 shekels a share.  Ratio dropped 1.2% to 34 agorot after shareholders approved management’s plan to buy 30 million shekels in shares in a planned initial public offering in Ratio Petroleum. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year Shahar bond jumped 0.38%. (Guy Erez)