Business in Brief: Israel Aerospace Not Giving Up on Bid to Buy Aeronautics

Check Point buys Israeli startup to boost its AI capabilities ■ Housing & Construction offers to buy out Route 6 partners ■ Tel Aviv shares extend losses for a third day

File photo: Employees clean an Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. Aerostar Tactical drone.
Bloomberg

Israel Aerospace not giving up on bid to buy Aeronautics

Israel Aerospace Industries is not giving up on its bid to buy drone maker Aeronautics. A day after Aeronautics said it had entered into exclusive talks with Rafael -- like IAI, a state-owned defense company --  a source close to the deal told TheMarker that the “story isn’t over.” The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that “IAI has no plans to cede anything to Rafael and is still looking for ways to buy Aeronautics. They are still very interested and I wouldn’t be shocked if there are interesting developments.”  Still, IAI’s chances seem slim after Aeronautics gave its initial nod to Rafael’s generous 850 million shekel ($232 million) offer. IAI would have to get antitrust approval and Rafael has the advantage of being a 50-50 partner with Aeronautics in the joint venture Controp Precision Technologies, a key part of Aeronautics’ value. Aeronautics shares ended up rising 6.7% at 13.13 shekels. (Guy Erez) 

Check Point buys Israeli startup to boost its AI capabilities

In a bid to beef up its artificial intelligence capabilities, the Israeli cyber security company Check Point Software Technologies said on Monday that it had acquired the Tel Aviv startup ForceNock Security. Check Point didn’t say what it was paying, but sources estimate it was less than $10 million. Founded in 2017, ForceNock has developed technology that utilizes machine learning, behavioral and reputation-based security engines. Check Point plans to integrate ForceNock’s technology into its Infinity total protection architecture. “The growing usage of platforms -- cloud, network, mobile, endpoint and internet of things -- requires complete, simple to deploy and easy to use security technologies,” said Dorit Dor, Check Point’s vice president for products. “Incorporating ForceNock’s technology into our Infinity Architecture … strengthens our machine learning protection capabilities.” The acquisition comes three months after Check Point bought Israeli startup, Dome 9, for $175 million. Check Point shares were down 1.1% at $104.28 midday local time in New York. (Yoram Gabison)

Housing & Construction offers to buy out Route 6 partners

Housing & Construction Limited is taking advantage of its partners’ financial woes to buy out their stakes in the Route 6 operating company. The company has given Africa Israel Investments and Alon seven days to respond to a 278 million shekel ($$75.9 million) offer for their shares in Derech Eretz —153.5 million for Africa and 125.3 for Alon. “Our goal is to control the company and develop its business,” said CEO Moshe Lahmani. Africa and Alon are under pressure from bondholders to sell assets and pay down some of their heavy debt load. Bondholders will have to decide whether to say yes to H&C’s offer or hold out for a better one. But as a partner in Derech Eretz, which operates the Route 6 toll road,  H&C has right of first refusal to match any counter-offer. H&C shares ended 1.25% higher at 5.83 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)

Tel Aviv shares extend losses for a third day

Tel Aviv shares posted a third straight session lower as Bezeq continued posting heavy losses. The TA-35 and TA-125 indices both were down about 0.45% at the close at 1,485.17 and 1,398.04 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.13 billion shekels ($310 million). Bezeq slid 4.4% to 3.25 shekels and was the most heavily traded stock of the day. Sabina Levy, analyst at Leader Capital Markets, said Bezeq would likely not pay a dividend in the next two years.  The stock is down 11% so far this year. Among blue chips, Nice fell 3.6% to 378.10, Bank Hapoalim fell 1.3% to 23.31 and Norstar lost 5.85% to 39.29. Camtek rose 6.3% to 26.53 after sayings it would continue to grow in the first quarter despite weakness in the global semiconductor industry. In foreign currency trading, the euro weakened more than 0.9% to a representative rate of 4.1922 shekels.  (TheMarker Staff)