Business in Brief: Cellcom Upping Price of Cellular Service for New Customers

Legislators grill Bank Leumi’s top executives ■ Stocks edge up in volatile trading

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Israel's biggest mobile phone operator Cellcom is seen on the Cellcom building in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, Israel January 28, 2014.
REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

Cellcom said Sunday it would raise the price of cellular-service packages for new customers by 10 shekels ($2.70) a month, the first hint that the tough competition in the industry might be softening. Stocks in the sector rose on the news: Cellcom closed 5% higher, Partner climbed 3.5% and Electra Consumer Products, which owns Golan Telecom, gained 2%. Bezeq, which owns Pelephone, also rose. Cellcom’s competitors are considered likely to respond in kind. The previous round of earnings reports showed that Israel’s cellphone companies were struggling at current prices. Cellcom reported a 30-million-shekel loss. (Guy Erez)

MKs grill Leumi top executives over whether they favored tycoons

Bank Leumi’s top brass Sunday appeared before a Knesset committee examining whether the bank gave preferential treatment to some of the country’s most famous tycoons. Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Chairman David Brodet and VP-Strategy Hanan Friedman appeared before the panel but did not say much, claiming client confidentiality. The committee’s chairman, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), said he would set up a subcommittee to push the bankers to provide answers. The banks are under fire for the hefty credit lines they granted some of Israel’s biggest borrowers including Yitzhak Tshuva, Lev Leviev, Nochi Danker and Eliezer Fishman, many of whom have since run into financial difficulties. Last week, Bank Hapoalim executives faced the Knesset committee and gave similarly hollow answers. (Hagai Amit)

Stocks inch up as market  remains volatile

Tel Aviv stocks edged up Sunday in volatile trading as the blue-chip Tel Aviv-35 Index gained 0.06% to close at 1,569 points while the broader Tel Aviv-125 Index rose 0.18% points to 1,420.  Banks gained 0.6%. Stocks began the day with losses of up to 0.35% but moved into the green by afternoon with gains of up to 0.4%. Volatility has hit stocks around the world in recent weeks, reflecting investors’ jitters. But analysts are calling the losses a healthy correction, not the beginning of a bear market. (Assa Sasson)