Business in Brief: Rate-hike Consensus at Bank of Israel Broken for First Time in Three Years

Accelmed fund earns windfall on 15-month-old investment in Cogentix ■ CyberArk buys assets of U.S. cloud startup Vaultive for undisclosed amount ■ U.S. fines Elbit Imaging $500,000 for alleged bribes to Romanian officials ■ Bank stock gains fail to give rest of market a lift

Shekels in a wallet.
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The Bank of Israel’s decision to hold its base lending rate unchanged last month was not unanimous for the first time in three years, minutes of the discussions released Monday showed. One of the six members of its Monetary Policy Committee broke ranks to argue for a rate increase despite near-zero inflation and concerns about a strong shekel. In voting for a 15-basis-point rate increase last month, the anonymous dissenter argued that low inflation was not due to weak demand but to the fact prices in Israel are relatively high and the government was taking steps to reduce the cost of living. “This committee member was of the opinion that less emphasis should be placed on the over-appreciated level of the exchange rate in view of the economy’s switch from goods exports to services exports and the growth in world trade, which are expected to reduce the sensitivity of exports to the level of the exchange rate,” the minutes said. (Reuters)

Accelmed fund earns windfall on 15-month-old investment in Cogentix

Accelmed, the Israeli medical device investment fund led by Mori Arkin, is due for a windfall just 15 months after it acquired a 26.5% stake in Cogentix medical. The U.S. company said Monday it was being acquired by Laborie for $3.85 a share, or a 14% premium on its Friday closing price on the Nasdaq. The deal values Cogentix at $242 million versus a $62 million valuation when Accelmed invested $25 milion in the company in November 2016, giving the fund an 87% internal rate of return on the investment.  Cogentix, a maker of endoscopy medical devices that employs 220 people, was formed in 2015 from a merger between Uroplasty and Vision Sciences. Accelmed’s investment strategy is to bring together veteran U.S. medical device makers with poor growth prospects with Israeli and European startups with innovative technology. The fund helped Cogentix with three acquisitions that brought its 2017 sales to $56 million, a 9% increase over 2016. (Yoram Gabison)

CyberArk buys assets of U.S. cloud startup Vaultive for undisclosed amount

CyberArk, whose software enables organizations to better secure privileged computer accounts, said Monday it had completed a deal to acquire the assets of the Boston-based startup Vaultive for an undisclosed amount. CyberArk said it would use Vaultive’s cloud security to enhance its Privileged Account Security Solution. Udi Mokady, CyberArk’s CEO, said the company was only buying Vaultive’s Israeli research and development operation and not the Boston-based parent company. “It’s not a classic acquisition because we’re taking the technology and development assets without the small sales team located in the U.S. It’s the best route for us,” he said. It’s the fifth acquisition for CyberArk and the fourth of an Israeli company. Vaultive will enhance CyberArk’s cloud-based services at a time when, according to market researcher IDC, worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure is forecast to reach $277 billion in 2021. CyberArk shares were down 0.8% at $50.95 midday local time in New York. (Eliran Rubin)

U.S. fines Elbit Imaging $500,000 for alleged bribes to Romanian officials

Elbit Imaging, an Israeli real estate developer traded on the Nasdaq, was fined $500,000 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly bribing Romanian officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The March 9 settlement came after the SEC concluded that Elbit and its Plaza Centers subsidiary paid millions of dollars to consultants and a sales agent, purportedly for services connected with a Romanian real estate project and the sale of properties in the U.S. “Elbit and Plaza made these payments even though they lacked evidence that the consultants and the sales agent had actually provided the contracted for services,” the SEC said. “They also failed to record these payments in their books and records accurately in a manner that fairly reflected the true nature of the payments.” Shares of Elbit, which was not required to admit the findings, were trading up 0.7% at $2.78 midday local time in New York on Monday. (Efrat Neuman

Bank stock gains fail to give rest of market a lift

Advances by banking shares failed Monday to give a lift to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which ended mixed. The benchmark TA-125 index edged down 0.05% to close at 1,493.78 points, while the broader TA-125 index declined 0.1% to 1,352.27 points, on turnover of 1.23 billion shekels ($360 million). Bank shares were paced by a 3% rise for Mizrahi-Tefahot to 68.93 shekels. Bank Leumi gained 2.45% to 21.20 and Bank Hapoalim added 2.4% to 25.12. Biomedical stocks were also strong, with Mazor Robotics up 4.1% to close at 128.60 and Teva Pharmaceuticals up 12.6% to 66.87. Strauss Group rose 2.3% to 81.40 in heavy trading. However, Elbit Systems turned sharply lower a day after the government said it was selling its IMI Systems. Elbit shares dropped 4.3% to 475.80. Bezeq ended down 1.3% to 5.01, a day after Naty Saidoff said he was pulling out of a deal to buy control of the telecom company. (Guy Erez)