Business in Brief: Partner Mulls Credit Cards, Development of Leviathan Gas Field Half Done

Leading Tel Aviv Stock Exchange indexes nearly unchanged; Delek Group says Leviathan should begin transporting gas next year

File photo: Drilling platform at the Leviathan natural gas field.
Albatross

Partner Communications mulling branching out into credit card business

Partner Communications, the country’s second-largest mobile carrier, said Thursday it is considering a foray into the credit card business as a source of future growth. It is thought that Partner is eyeing Leumi Card, which is owned 80% by Bank Leumi and 20% by the Azrieli Group. Partner disclosed its new direction in its first-quarter earnings report. It recorded an 86% drop in quarterly profits as it continued to invest heavily in the deployment of a fiber-optics network and its TV service. The company also said it planned to buy back up to 200 million shekels ($56 million) of its own shares between June 4 and May 30, 2019. Partner said it earned 9 million shekels in the first quarter, down from 64 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 3% to 826 million shekels, with its mobile subscriber base falling by 7,000 in the first quarter to 2.67 million. The company’s shares closed 6.8% higher at 14.16 shekels Thursday. (Michael Rochvarger and Reuters)

Ormat Technology’s substation, warehouse near Kilauea volcano burned by lava

Lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has burned a substation at Ormat Technology’s Puna geothermal plant near the volcano as well as a warehouse where drilling equipment was being stored, the Israeli geothermal firm reported Thursday. The lava also covered the main highway leading to the plant, closing the road. The eruption began May 3 and three days later required the total shutdown of the plant, which is located on Hawaii Island, the largest of the state’s islands. The damage to the Ormat substation and warehouse are covered by a $100 million insurance policy against volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. In light of the damage caused to the transmission network maintained by the local electrical utility, Hawaii Electric Light, Ormat, which has a 63% stake in the plant, said it would be a considerable period of time until a new substation is up and running, adding that it is impossible to predict when the Puna facility, which provides a quarter of the island’s power, will again be generating electricity. (Yoram Gabison)

Delek says half the work on development of Leviathan gas field completed in Q1

The Delek Group has announced that, as of the end of March, about half of the work in developing its Leviathan offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean was completed and that gas should begin flowing from the field, Israel’s largest, next year. The work performed included the laying of underwater pipes connecting the gas wells to a main pipeline and the construction of a substantial portion of the production rig, the company said. These details came Thursday as Delek released its first quarter financial results, reporting a decline in revenue from energy operations in Israel after selling off 9.25% of its stake in another gas field, Tamar, in which it retained a 22% share. Delek said all told, it earned 243 million shekels ($68 million) in the first quarter, up from 220 million a year earlier. Revenue rose to 1.78 billion shekels from 1.54 billion. (Eran Azran and Reuters)

Leading TASE indexes nearly unchanged

Shares were mixed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Thursday after a strong opening. The blue chip TA-35 index  ended the day off 0.03% at 1,512.01 points, while the TA-125 finished up 0.05% at 1,365.05. The Banks-5 index rose 0.7% to 2,032.63. Trading volume was 1.88 billion shekels ($527 million). Phoenix Holdings shares rose 2.7% to 20.10 shekels, despite reporting a 34% decline in first-quarter profits. Harel Insurance shares edged down 0.4% to 27.11 following its report Thursday of first-quarter profits of 80 million shekels, down from 253 million a year earlier. (Jasmin Gueta)