Business in Brief: Banks Pull Down Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

Delek Group selling an additional 4.9% of insurer Phoenix ■ Strauss gets a new CEO ■ Big Shopping Centers going bigger into Serbia

Delek Group selling an additional 4.9% of insurer Phoenix

Delek Group said Wednesday it agreed to sell a 4.9% stake in insurer Phoenix Holdings for 263 million shekels ($73 million) to an unidentified third party through a banking institution. The 12.5 million shares will be sold outside of the stock market at 21.03 shekels each, the same as Tuesday’s closing price, valuing Phoenix at 5.3 billion shekels. Last week Delek sold a 4.9% stake in Phoenix for 253 million shekels. Prior to the transaction, Delek held 36.5% of insurance giant Phoenix. Delek, which holds significant stakes in Israel’s largest natural gas fields and other energy assets, is required to sell Phoenix under Israeli regulation that prohibits conglomerates from holding stakes in both financial and non-financial businesses. It has been trying to sell its stake in Phoenix for more than six years. Regulators blocked several deals over concerns of foreign groups taking over the company, which manages pension funds. (Reuters)

Strauss gets a new CEO

Dairy giant Strauss Group named Giora Bardea as its permanent CEO. Bardea has served as interim CEO since July, when Gadi Lesin stepped down for medical reasons. Bardea, a 22-year veteran of the company, had been deputy CEO for four years. “His ... knowledge of the Israeli market alongside international experience, his acquaintance with our local and international partners and his partnership with Gadi Lesin in shaping the group’s strategy in the past few years, led us to the decision that he is the most suitable person to lead the group,” said Strauss Group Chairwoman Ofra Strauss. Shares of Strauss Group closed down 1.30% to 79.97 shekels on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Wednesday. (TheMarker)

Big Shopping Centers going bigger into Serbia

Big Shopping Centers announced Wednesday that its subsidiary Big-CEE signed a deal to acquire a commercial center in the Serbian city of Pancevo from Israeli commercial developer Aviv Arlon. The open-plan shopping center, covering approximately 28,000 square meters, boasts 100% occupancy and an annual net operating income of 3.15 million euros. The retail center, Aviv Park Pancevo, contains a number of major chains like H&M, C&A, MacDonald’s, Deichmann, Takko Fashion and New Yorker, as well as several local brands, a 2,800-meter cinema complex and a weight room. Big already has two successful properties in Serbia, Big Novi Sad and Big Fashion Belgrade, and is developing a third. “Big Shopping Centers sees Serbia as an attractive market that allows it to express its capabilities, and Serbia is one of the most flourishing markets in Europe,” said Hay Galis, the company’s deputy CEO. (Jasmin Gueta)

TASE workers, averaging 47,000 shekels a month, declare labor dispute

Some 250 employees at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange declared a labor dispute Wednesday, demanding financial compensation for its upcoming initial public offering. The average worker earns a gross salary of 47,000 shekels ($13,000) a month. Workers cited concerns about the repercussions of the IPO on their salaries and on the future of their employment, a lack of willingness on the part of management to be transparent and to include workers in the process as well as management’s avoidance of holding negotiations regarding the ramifications of the IPO, their union stated. According to TASE financial reports, the average worker’s current wage at the TASE is 6.8% than in 2015, when it was 50,000 shekels a month. Still, the 249 TASE employees accrued benefits last year worth 140 million shekels, up from 137 million shekels in 2016. Workers also received 6% of the projected shares. (Assa Sasson)

Banks pull down Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended Wednesday in the red, as banks had a particularly bad day. The benchmark TA-35 index closed down 1.2%, at 1634.18 points, while the Banks-5 index slumped 2.1% to 2150.07 and the broader TA-125 declined 1.3% to 1467.33. Turnover was brisk at 1.5 billion shekels ($416 million). Bank Leumi was the most actively traded stock, sliding 2.6% to 23.10 on turnover of nearly 268 million shekels. Bank Hapoalim dropped 2.4% to 25.64, a day after sinking 3.2% in wake of Shari Arison’s announcement that she was selling her stake in the financial institution, while Israel Discount Bank lost 1.7% to end the day at 12.50. Tower Jazz was one of the few companies to buck the trend, closing up 1.0%. In the foreign exchange markets, the greenback slid a modest 0.2% to 3.619 dollars per shekel, while the euro inched up 0.1% to a value of 4.195 euros per shekel. (Jasmin Gueta)

An electronic board displaying market data is seen at the entrance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo