Business in Brief: Iran Escalation Fails to Worry Stock Market

Bank of Israel suing counterfeiters for copyright infringement of its notes ■ Shasha planning IPO despite long odds ■ Israel Chemicals net boosted by capital gain

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 10, 2018.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 10, 2018. Credit: \ BRENDAN MCDERMID/ REUTERS

Bank of Israel suing counterfeiters for copyright infringement of its notes

Israel is suing two people for violating the Bank of Israel’s copyright for counterfeiting shekel notes, demanding 400,000 shekels ($112,000) in damages. The two were convicted and fined last year for making tens of thousands of shekels in fake 200-shekel bills over a period of several months. On Wednesday the Justice Ministry and the central bank announced that they had also filed a civil suit, the first of its kind in Israel, to indemnify it for damages caused as a result of the defendants’ actions. “The suit will send a clear and deterring message that in addition to criminal law, counterfeiters will also face civil lawsuits for significant amounts,” the Bank of Israel said in a separate statement. “The security features on the new series of bank notes were created with advanced technology and are among the best in the world,” it said. “Counterfeiters have so far been unsuccessful in any attempt to mimic the security features.” (Reuters)

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Shasha planning IPO despite long odds

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange hasn’t been kind to small initial public offerings in recent months, but Shasha Tours is going ahead despite the odds. The bus operator filed Wednesday for a 50 million shekel ($14 million) offering that values the company at between 150 million and 180 million shekels. The company operates a fleet of 250 buses and taxis that serve both the public transportation and tourism sectors. Revenues have grown about 15% on average annually over the past three years, fueled by record numbers of tourists to Israel and by its partnership with the ride-hailing service Gett. The pace picked up last year with sales climbing 23% while net profit reached 15 million shekels, versus 6 million shekels the year before. The IPO comes after the Shasha family paid itself a 60 million shekel dividend. Proceeds will be used to bid on new bus routes and transportation infrastructure projects. (Eran Azran)

Israel Chemicals net boosted by capital gain

Israel Chemicals reported Thursday higher first-quarter revenue and profits, boosted by a capital gain and increased potash sales. ICL, which also produces about a third of the world’s bromine, said net profit grew to $928 million from $68 million a year earlier. Excluding a capital gain from the $1 billion sale of its fire safety and oil additives business, ICL earned $106 million in the quarter. Revenue grew to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion, driven primarily by an increase of $28 per metric ton in potash prices. Analysts had forecast ICL to earn $106.5 million on revenue of $1.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. ICL said its divestment proceeds led to a $768 million reduction in net debt. Shares of ICL, which will pay a dividend of 4 cents a share, down from 5 cents in the fourth quarter, ended up 1.35% at 16.55 shekels ($4.63). (Reuters)

Iran escalation fails to worry stock market

Tel Aviv shares Thursday greeted Israel’s escalating confrontation with Iran with a yawn. The benchmark TA-35 index ended 0.15% higher at 1,472.19 points, while the TA-125 added 0.2% to 1,329.25, on turnover of 1.24 billion shekels ($350 million). Biomedical stocks led prices higher, with Opko Health extending a 15.8% gain Wednesday by another 13.9% to end at 15.37 shekels. Mazor Robotics climbed 2.2% to 98.01. Mobile Cellphone carrier stocks also rallied, presumably on figures showing new rival Xfone had not lured away many customers from older players. Cellcom Israel rose 5.9% to 26.25 and Partner Communications by 5.8% to 14.50.Nice fell 2.2% to 348 even though it reported earnings of $1.03 a share for the first quarter, 2 cents more than forecast, and lifted its full-year profit forecast. In foreign currency trading, the dollar continued to lose ground to the shekel, weakening 0.5% to a representative rate of 3.580 shekels. (Guy Erez)