Business in Brief: Delek Confident About Leviathan Export Prospects

Isracard net profit dropped 9 percent in 2016 on lower margin; Dual-listed stocks weigh on Tel Aviv stock market.

Reuters/Amir Cohen

Delek management confident about Leviathan export prospects

Yitzhak Tshuva and Yossi Abu, who runs his Delek Group’s energy operations, expressed confidence on Monday that Israel could reach agreements to export natural gas to Turkey and Egypt from its Leviathan gas field. “It’s no secret that the dialogue with Turkey has heated up. ... Over the last few months we’ve returned to intensive activity in the matter and it will continue,” Abu told an analysts conference. He discounted the possibility that the giant gas find at Egypt’s Zohr field would preclude exports to Egypt. “We are confident that the Egyptian economy will need Israeli natural gas,” said Abu, who is CEO of Delek Drilling and Avner, the two energy units of Tshuva’s Delek Group. Abu also expressed optimism regarding the prospects of finding oil at Leviathan in addition to the gas already discovered. The meeting came days after Delek and then other partners in Leviathan approved a $3.75 billion plan to bring the gas field into production. Delek Drilling and Avner shares, which are due to complete a merger next month, both fell 1.3% to 21.48 shekels ($5.85) and 2.42 shekels, respectively. (Eran Azran)

Isracard net profit dropped 9% in 2016 on lower margin

Isracard, the credit card-issuing unit of Bank Hapoalim, said on Monday that profits declined 9% last year because of lower margins for issuing and clearing cards. An increase in loan losses as it expanded its consumer lending business and higher payments to Visa Europe also contributed to the drop in net profit to 229 million shekels ($62.4 million) last year, Isracard said. The fourth quarter saw a particularly sharp decline of 22.4% year on year to 38 million shekels, it added. Hapoalim took a 230 million-shekel dividend from Isracard for 2016, the first payout in eight years. The decline comes as Hapoalim and Bank Leumi take their first steps to sell their credit card businesses under orders from the government. They have as much as four years to divest their subsidiaries but are moving much more quickly. Leumi Card last week reported that its 2016 net profit edged up 2% to 184 million shekels. Hapoalim shares finished down 0.4% at 22.27 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

Dual-listed stocks weigh on Tel Aviv stock market

Tel Aviv shares ended lower, with dual-listed stocks hit hard by the dollar’s weakening to its lowest since 2015 (see story on this page). The TA-35 and TA-125 indices ended down about 0.6% to 1,435.13 and 1,277.97 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.4 billion shekels ($380 million). TA Global-BlueTech index fell 1.1% to 365.54, with losses of 2.2% to end at 208.80 shekels for Ormat Technologies and 1.5% to 84.63 for TowerJazz. Other big losers were Elbit Systems on a 1.2% decline to 4.32 and El Al Airlines on a 4.1% drop to 2.72. Bank Leumi rose 1.2% to close at 15.90 and was the most heavily traded share of the day. Spacecom advanced 2% to 26.57, saying it had begun operating its new Amos 7 satellite after losing two others in the past two years. Frutarom rose 0.8% to 204 after Excellence rated it a Buy and set a target price of 235 shekels. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year Shahar bond lost 0.36% to up its yield to 2.31%. (Shelly Appelberg)