Business in Brief: Israeli Merger and Acquisition Activity Grew 25% in 2016, PwC Says

Kenon Holding to decide on IPO in its IC Power unit early next month | Bank of Israel intervenes in forex market to tune of $300 million | Tel Aviv shares rally as Dow heads to 20,000 points

Bloomberg

Israeli merger and acquisition activity grew 25% in 2016, PwC says

Merger and acquisition activity in Israel grew sharply this year, snapping five years of declines, the consulting firm PwC reported on Wednesday. The number of transactions grew 25% to 120, while the average deal size climbed 41% to $227 million, not counting Teva Pharmaceuticals’ $39 billion purchase of Britain’s Allergan. PwC said the value of M&As involving an overseas company jumped 71% to $11.1 billion, boosted by the $4.4 billion acquisition of the gambling-technology company Playtika. Although the seller was an American company and the buyer Chinese, PwC said it counted the deal because Playtika is based in Israel. Deals involving a U.S. company dropped to 26 this year from 31 in 2015, but deals with Chinese companies grew to six from four. Liat Enzel-Aviel, who heads PwC’s M&A business, said she was optimistic about next year. “Incessant need to innovate, competitive pressures and consumer power are expected to keep M&A at the forefront for many investors,” she said. (Omri Zerachovitz

Kenon Holding to decide on IPO in its IC Power unit early next month

Kenon Holdings will make a final decision on whether to conduct an initial public offering on Wall Street in IC Power, its Latin American energy unit, early next month at a $1.5 billion valuation, sources say. The holding company and IC Power’s underwriters, including Merrill Lynch-Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and others, are encouraged by record high prices on Wall Street but are still waiting to get a better feeling for the sentiment around energy stocks, especially for companies operating in emerging markets. The IPO will include new stock as well as stock sold by Kenon, which has a $220 million loan from its sister company, The Israel Corporation, coming due. In related news, Kenon said on Sunday it had agreed to prove an approximately $36 million loan to its cash-strapped Chinese automotive joint venture Qoros Automotive Company. Kenon’s partner, Chery Automobile Company, is making a similarly sized loan. Kenon shares closed up 5% at 44.20 shekels ($11.49). (Yoram Gabison)

Bank of Israel intervenes in forex market to tune of $300 million

The Bank of Israel intervened in the foreign currency market on Tuesday, buying what market sources said was about $300 million in forex and causing the dollar to briefly strengthen as much as 1.5%. The U.S. currency was actually gaining on the shekel Tuesday morning, but last week the Israeli currency gained about 1.2% even as the dollar has been strengthening against other global currencies after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled a policy of interest rate hikes. Against the Bank of Israel’s trade-weighted basket of currencies, the shekel has gained more than 5.5%, threatening to undermine Israel’s export competitiveness. The dollar ended the day stronger against the shekel but settled at a Bank of Israel rate of 3.85 for an 0.8% gain. The euro also gained 0.8% against the shekel and pushed up above 4.00 again after three-day long dip below that, to a Bank of Israel rate of 4.0202. (Guy Erez)

Tel Aviv shares rally as Dow heads to 20,000 points

Tel Aviv shares rose sharply on Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average resumed its climb toward 20,000 after the Christmas break and the Nasdaq hit a record as technology and health stocks rose. The blue chip TA-25 index rose 0.9% to 1,475.53 points, while the TA-100 added 1.1% to 1,286.21, as turnover revived to 1.33 billion shekels ($350 million) after a stretch of thin trading. Biomed and technology led the gains. Protalix soared 18.4% to 1.41 shekels after confirming a $24 million order it announced this month from Brazil. Other biotech gainers were Biotime on a 7% advance to 14.76 and Mannkind’s 3.9% rise to 2.72. Redhill rose 2.4% to 3.96 after saying it completed a $38 million sale of American depository shares. Tech stocks were paced by a 2.9% gain to 75.19 for TowerJazz. Mellison got anAA-minus rating ahead of a planned 500 million-shekel bond sale, and its shares finished up 1.5% to 163. (Shelly Appelberg)