Business in Brief: Spacecom Says Talks to Sell Company to Chinese Ended Without Deal

Israel Securities Authority seeks Cyprus’ aid in binary-option crackdown | Kerur says weighing option to buy out Jafora partner Clal Industries | Energy and telecoms stock weigh on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

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The 2013 launch of Israel's Amos 4 satellite.
The 2013 launch of Israel's Amos 4 satellite. Credit: Israel Aircraft Industries

Spacecom says talks to sell company to Chinese ended without deal

Space Communications, the operator of the Amos satellites, said Monday that months’-long negotiations to sell itself to the China’s Beijing Xinwei Technology Group appear to have collapsed. After providing equivocal reports on the talks’ progress in recent weeks, Spacecom admitted that while they were never formally broken off the two sides had not held discussions for some time. Xinwei had reached a preliminary agreement last August to buy Spacecom for $285 million, but the next month the Israeli company’s Amos 6 satellite was destroyed in an explosion just before takeoff at its Florida launch pad, raising doubts about whether the sale would go through. The two sides renegotiated a lower price of $190 million but no final agreement was reached and self-imposed deadlines were extended. Spacecom said that other candidates have expressed an interest in buying the company. Shares of Spacecom, which is controlled by Shaul Elovich’s Eurocom Group, ended up 0.8% to 25.28 shekels ($6.60). (Guy Erez)

Israel Securities Authority seeks Cyprus’ aid in binary-option crackdown

Israel Securities Authority chairman Shmuel Hauser took his war against binary options traders to Cyprus over the weekend, meeting with Demetra Kalogerou, his counterpart at the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, to enlist her aid. Cyprus is home to about 20 binary trading firms, most of them controlled by Israelis and Russians, and the industry is a major employer. Although CySEC is one of the few European regulators that have accepted binary options as a legal financial product, it has introduced stricter requirements for brokerages. In Israel, Hauser banned marketing to Israelis of binary options – a financial instrument in which the buyer bets on whether its price will rise or fall in a certain time frame – but the estimated 100 to 200 Israeli-based firms can continue selling them overseas. Hauser is now trying to get the legal authority to widen the ban to include marketing to foreigners. Last week the Cypriot-Israeli firm Banc de Binary said it was winding down operations due to regulatory pressure. (Uri Tomer)

Kerur says weighing option to buy out Jafora partner Clal Industries

Kerur Holdings said late Sunday it was weighing whether to exercise its right of first refusal to buy out its partner in Jafora Tavori, one of Israel’s biggest soft drink makers. Kerur, which controls 69.6% of the joint venture, said Clal Industries informed it that it had reached an agreement to sell its minority stake and gave Kerur until February 5 to act on its right of first refusal to match the terms and buy it instead. Clal, a holding company controlled by U.S. investor Len Blavatnik, said the unidentified buyer had offered 223 million shekels ($58.3 million) for a 14.3% stake in Jafora and had taken a nine-month option to buy another 16.1%, an offering that values Jafora at 1.6 billion shekels. Jafora makes and markets leading brands like Schweppes and RC sodas and Ein Gedi and Mei Eden bottled water and controls about a quarter of the domestic beverage market. Kerur ended 1.3% up at 95.88 shekels Monday. (Yoram Gabison)

Energy and telecoms stock weigh on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Tel Aviv shares ended lower in very light trading on Monday as energy and telecoms stocks traded lower. The blue chip TA-25 index ended down 0.4% to 1,448.31 points, while the TA-100 fell 0.35% to 1,266.64, as just 979 million shekels ($255.8 million) in shares changed hands. In energy, Avner ended down 1.8% at 2.55 shekels and Delek Drilling lost 1.7% to 13.57 after a report that Egypt was seeking to avoid natural gas imports and rely on domestic supplies exclusively. In the telecoms sector, Partner Communications slid 2.8% to 21.41 and Cellcom Israel finished 2.4% lower at 36.48. Unusually, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank was the day’s most active share, but it ended up just 0.2% at 59.25. Clal led gains for the insurance sector – one of the few to show a rise for the day – climbing 4.5% to 49.46. El Al Airlines lost 2.8% to 2.34 amid concerns a labor dispute with pilots is flaring up again. (Shelly Appelberg)

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