Business in Brief: Delek Energy Shares Soar as Parent Makes Another Attempt to Buy Out Minorities

SEC allegations of share-price manipulation ■ Mizrahi to sell 540m shekels of mortgages ■ Delek Group denies reports CEO about to step down ■ Tel Aviv shares post big gains, led by Teva and telecoms stocks

File photo: Asaf Bartfeld, chief executive officer of Delek Group Ltd., poses for a photograph following a Bloomberg Television interview during the opening of the new stock exchange building in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.
Bloomberg

SEC allegations of share-price manipulation

Phillip Frost, the CEO and chairman of Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-traded American company Opko Health, on Friday denied allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he was part of a group that had manipulated the share prices of a handful of tiny drug-development companies. “I was stunned by the SEC’s lawsuit and deny the allegations it contains against me,” said Frost, a former Teva Pharmaceuticals chairman, in his first public statement after the SEC announced September 7 issued a complaint. Opko was also named. “The allegations against me are belied by common sense, my history of supporting promising scientific technology, and the facts. I invested in two of the entities identified in the complaint.” Trading in Opko shares was suspended on the TASE and Nasdaq following the SEC notice and plunged when they resumed at the end of last week. On Sunday, the stock rebounded in Tel Aviv, closing up 6.4% to 14.23 shekels ($3.98). (TheMarker Staff)

Mizrahi to sell 540m shekels of mortgages to improve capital adequacy ratio

Anxious to improve its capital adequacy ratio as it struggles with the costs of a U.S. tax probes, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank said on Sunday it had agreed to sell 80% of a 680 million shekel ($190 million) mortgage portfolio to the insurance company Harel. It was the fourth such sale by Mizrahi, Israel’s biggest home lender, and comes as a sensitive time for the bank. Last month it took a 425 million shekel provision against expected penalties in the U.S. investigation. The set-aside slashed Mizrahi’s second- quarter profit by 48% and left its tier I capital adequacy ratio, a key measure of financial strength, at 9.95%, below the regulatory.  Mizrahi is now to complete the deal with so it can move the risk assets off its balance sheet Harel by the end of end of the third quarter September 30. The deal will boost Harel’s mortgage portfolio to 5.5 billion shekels. Mizrahi shares finished up 2.6% at 65.72 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

Delek Group denies reports long-serving CEO about to step down

Delek Group, the energy conglomerate controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva, on Sunday denied media reports that its long-serving and highly regarded CEO would be stepping down shortly. “Reports that the CEO plans to announce his resignation are wrong and Mr. Asaf Barfeld will continue to serve as company CEO,” Delek said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The company issued the statement after TheMarker and other media cited unidentified market sources over the weekend that said Barfeld, 66, would tender his resignation after 15 years as CEO after the High Holy Days are over at the end of this month. The reports said that Barfeld might stay on as a director and that Yaakov Orbach, a former Bank Hapoalim executive who joined Delek three months ago, was the top candidate to succeed him. Barfeld joined Delek Group in 1998 and was named CEO in 2003.Delek shares ended down 0.02% at 578 shekels ($161.47). (Eran Azran)

Delek Energy shares soar as parent makes another attempt to buy out minorities

Delek Energy shares soared on Sunday after parent company Delek Group made a new tender offer to minority shareholders. The offer for the 11.8% of Delek Energy the company doesn’t already own is the latest of several attempts by the group to delist Delek Energy after shareholders rejected the last offer six months ago. The one announced on Sunday offers them for each of their stocks, 55 shares in Delek Drilling, another group company; 0.92 of a Delek Group share; and 640 shekels, ($178.79 in cash, which values Delek Energy stock at 1,736 shekels each), a 19% premium before the offer was made. Investors closed much of that premium by the end of the day Sunday, pushing Delek Energy stock 12.6% higher to a close of 16.44. The deadline to sell is October 9 and 7% of minority shareholders must agree for the offer to go through, Delek Group said. (TheMarker Staff)

Tel Aviv shares post big gains, led by Teva and telecoms stocks

TASE shares rose on Sunday, led by gains for Teva Pharmaceuticals (see story on this page) and the telecoms sector.  The benchmark TA-35 index finished the day up nearly 1.6% at 1,653.48 points, while the TA-125 added 1.4% to 1,486.42, on turnover of 596 million shekels ($166.5 million). Bezeq gained 7.1% to end at 4.34 shekels and its parent company B Communications 5.2% to 35.04. Cellular operators Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications advanced 8.4% to 23.71 and 7.8% to 18.09, respectively. Unitornics jumped 9.9% to 27.34 after it reported winning a $10.1 million contract to develop an automated parking garage in Boston. Carasso Motors raised 244 million shekels in the institutional tranche of a sale of its Series 3 bonds. The offering drew 686 million shekels in orders. Carasso shares rose 1.1% to 19.50. Losers in the TA-125 included Kamada, down 3.2% by close to 21, and Gilat Satellite, down 2.3% to 32.50. (Eran Azran)