Business in Brief: BuzzFeed Says Ratio Had Ties With Firm Linked to Michael Flynn

Delek likely to sell Phoenix stake on stock market; Sagi offloading 10% Playtech stake; Madoff sons’ estates to pay $23 million to settle claims; shares end lower

Michael Flynn, center, arriving at a news conference at the White House when he was national security adviser, February 13, 2017.
CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

BuzzFeed says Ratio had ties with firm linked to Flynn

Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman whose dealings with Michael Flynn are part of a probe into the former U.S. national security adviser’s alleged foreign ties, was also retained by the Israeli energy company Ratio, BuzzFeed reported Monday. The news site said it had seen documents, emails and photographs showing that Alptekin’s Dutch company Inovo signed a contract with Ratio in April 2016 to represent it in Turkey and that Alptekin was a guest of Ratio at the Tel Aviv energy conference last November. The documents also allegedly show that the contract was broken off the following February and gave no indication Ratio knew of the Flynn connection. Ratio executives didn’t respond to BuzzFeed’s queries, but a spokeswoman for the company told TheMarker that “the company never retained Mr. Ekim Alpetkin’s services.” A source close to the Leviathan partnership, in which Ratio has a 15% stake, said Alptekin had approached the group about representing it in Turkey but was turned down. (Eran Azran)

Delek likely to sell Phoenix stake on stock market after Yango deal fails
Delek Group’s 52% stake in insurer Phoenix will probably be sold on the stock market after an agreement to sell it to China’s Fujian Yango fell through Monday. Delek said it was in talks with other potential buyers, but the Yango deal was the fourth failed attempt in three years to sell Phoenix and regulators are looking askance at selling asset managers to foreigners. Phoenix shares have climbed 65% in the past year, raising the market value of Delek’s holding to 1.94 billion shekels ($550 million), close to what Yango had agreed to pay, but Delek will be contending with a glut of insurance stocks for sale. Meir Cars & Trucks is seeking to offload its 23% Phoenix holding, the IDB group is under government orders to sell down its controlling stake in Clal Insurance, and Shlomo Eliahu wants to cash in some of his Migdal holdings. Delek must divest the stake by the end of 2019. (Michael Rochvarger)

Sagi offloading 10% Playtech stake as he focuses on real estate
U.K.-based Israeli investor Teddy Sagi sent shares of his online gambling company Playtech into a tailspin Tuesday after he said he was selling a 11.5% stake in order to diversify his holdings into more real estate. “I want to further develop my property portfolio, not only in London but also in other European capital cities, and be in the vanguard of the co-working revolution,” Sagi said. “I envisage taking some of the most iconic properties and establishing creative hubs where startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs can work, network and grow together.” Sagi’s investment vehicle Brickington Trading will sell about 36.5 million shares worth about 337 million pounds ($430 million), leaving it with a 6.3% stake that it will have to hold for at least another 180 days under an agreement with the stockbrokers selling the stake. Since last November Sagi has sold 830 million pounds of Playtech shares, which ended down 3.1% at 9.63 pounds in London on Tuesday. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Madoff sons’ estates agree to pay $23 million to settle claims
The estates of the late sons of Bernard Madoff have agreed to give up $23 million to help settle claims by victims of his massive Ponzi scheme. The trustee recovering money for the victims, Irving Picard, reached an agreement with the estates of Andrew and Mark Madoff that would strip them of “all assets, cash, and other proceeds” related to the scheme, Reuters reported, citing a Monday court filing in Manhattan. The agreement would leave the estate of Andrew Madoff, who died of cancer in 2014 at 48, with $2 million, and the estate of Mark Madoff, who committed suicide in 2010 at 46, with $1.75 million. The estates also agreed to withdraw more than $99 million in claims against their father’s bankrupt company. The sons said they did not know about the scheme until their father informed them of it a few days before his arrest in December 2008. They were not criminally charged in the case. (JTA)

Shares end lower, weighed down by insurance and tech
Tel Aviv shares ended lower Tuesday, weighed down by technology and insurance stocks. Both the TA-35 and TA-125 indexes ended down more than 0.4% at 1,438.59 and 1,292.19 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.65 billion shekels ($470 million). Nova led TA-125 shares down, sliding 4.6% to 81.70 shekels even though the U.S. investment house Stifel Nicolaus raised its target price for the company’s U.S. shares by $3 to $28. Foresight plunged 7.7% to 6.14, marking its sixth straight decline and a 25% drop since it listed its shares on the Nasdaq. Enlight dropped 2% to 1.33 after Shaul Elovitch’s holding company said it sold 9.5 million shekels of shares at 1.30 shekels each. Elovitch’s Bezeq group resumed its declines after a Monday mini-rally, with Bezeq itself ending down 1.7% at 5.86 and Internet Gold down 3.1% at 33.08. The dollar skidded 0.5% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.5180 shekels. (Guy Erez)