Business in Brief: Bezeq Threatened With 11.3 Million Shekel Fine Over Landline Telephony Reform

Israel to begin regulating contracts for difference trading in next few months ■ Shares end third session lower in thin trading

FILE PHOTO: Employees exit the Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. headquarters in Tel Aviv, December 29, 2010.
Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg

Bezeq threatened with NIS 11.3 million fine over landline telephony reform

Israel’s Communications Ministry is threatening to slap an 11.3 million shekel ($3 million) fine on Bezeq for failing to implement a key telecommunications reform the way the ministry demanded. Bezeq had refused to open up its landline telephony network to rivals as ordered by the ministry three years ago, saying its network wasn’t technically capable of making the change. Under Shlomo Filber, the ministry director general who was forced to step down in the Case 4000 investigation, the company was never penalized. When, under new leadership, the ministry set an August 1 deadline for Bezeq to implement the “wholesale market” reforms, the company announced its own plan based on a different engineering solution. After two weeks of indecision, the ministry confirmed on Sunday that it viewed Bezeq as in violation of the reform and that on top of the fine was weighing other enforcement actions. Bezeq shares ended down 0.8% at 3.69 shekels. (Nati Tucker)

Israel to begin regulating contracts for difference trading in next few months

Israelis will be able to trade contracts for difference on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange instruments starting sometime in the next few months after the Israel Securities puts into place regulations to safeguard investors. CFDs enable investors to speculate on a financial asset’s price movement, putting down just 5% of the value in the case of stocks. Profit or loss is based on the asset’s price movement, not on its underlying value. While some 10,000 Israelis are estimated to do about 1.5 billion shekels ($400 million) of CFD trades a month, they do it through overseas trading platforms that have little or no supervision.  Under the new rules, locally authorized platforms will be able to offer CFDs on the TASE’s TA-35 index and its component stocks. Officials expect that authorizing CFDs could boost trading on the TASE by 10% daily because trading platforms will be required to buy the underlying instruments their investors are betting on. (Guy Erez)

Shares end third session lower in thin trading

Tel Aviv shares ended lower for their third straight session after reaching a three-year high last week. The TA-35 and TA-125 indices both lost about 0.15% to 1,587.32 and 1,419.15 points, respectively, on thin turnover of 410 million shekels ($110 million). Among the biggest blue chip losers, Bank Hapoalim lost 1.8% to 25.25 shekels and TowerJazz shed 3% to 74.50.  Avgol rose 2.5% to close at 3.70 after it reported a $5.2 million profit in the second quarter, reversing a $1 million loss a year earlier. Itamar Medical rose 4.45% to 1.20 as first-half revenue climbed 22% to $11.5 million and its operating loss was cut to $970,000. Other gainers included Nice, which rose 4.9% to 413.70, and SodaStream, which gained 2.3% to 469.40. Mazor Robotics rallied for a second session, advancing 3.6% to 92.31 after a sharp drop last week.  In foreign currency trading on Friday, the euro weakened more than 0.8% to 4.2364 shekels. (TheMarker Staff)