Business in Brief: Israeli Telecom Giant Bezeq Withdraws Application to Merge Units

Israel Chemicals inks Indian potash deal; Matomy shares soar despite share issue; stock rally runs out

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A Bezeq store
A Bezeq storeCredit: Bloomberg

Bezeq withdraws application to merge units

Bezeq said Thursday it had withdrawn an application with regulators to merge some of its businesses as a stop-gap solution until a final decision on whether it can bring them all into one company. In August, Israel’s largest telecoms provider sought a temporary approval to combine its Pelephone mobile phone unit, Yes satellite television company and Bezeq International internet service provider. Its landline business, which dominates Israel’s telephony and internet market, would have remained separate. Bezeq said it pulled its request to let the Communications Ministry focus on the company’s longstanding bid to end a government-mandated separation of its four businesses, including its landline parent company. Bezeq shares finished 0.2% higher at 3.71 shekels (98 cents). (Reuters)

Israel Chemicals signs Indian potash deal that could be worth $914 million

Israel Chemicals said Thursday it had signed a five-year supply contract with Indian Potash, India’s largest importer of potash. ICL said it would supply the Indian company with 600,000 metric tons of potash per year in 2019 and 2020, with the amount increasing to 650,000 tons annually between 2021 and 2023. “This is the first time we have signed a long-term agreement for the supply of potash in India, which represents a strategic market for ICL,” said Noam Goldstein, president of ICL’s potash division. Prices will be based on the prevailing market rate in India at the relevant date, ICL said. The contract follows one ICL signed in August with another Indian importer for 550,000 tons at $290 a ton. If Indian Potash pays the same price, that would mean revenues for ICL of $914 million over the five years. India is one of the three biggest markets for ICL, whose shares ended 2% higher at 20.85 shekels ($5.53). (Yoram Gabison)

Matomy shares soar despite rights offering on horizon

Shares of Matomy surged Thursday even though the struggling digital advertising company is about to conduct a rights offering likely to dilute their holding. Bondholders are due to vote shortly whether to delay a court petition to wind up the company, which is struggling under 100 million shekels ($26.5 million) in debt on condition that shareholders agree to inject at least $15 million in cash through a rights offering. Controlling shareholders, who include the French advertising agency Publicis, will be obligated to participate but minority shareholders will not and are unlikely to join, thus diluting their stake. “Whoever in buying today is doing something idiotic,” said one institutional investor, who holds Matomy bonds. “Before the rights offering, the share price will crash on the stock market. No one is interested in Matomy shares.” Matomy closed 15.1% higher at 24 agorot. (Shelly Appelberg)

Rally runs out as global bears revive

A rally on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ran out of steam Thursday as European shares cut early gains and Wall Street opened sharply lower. The benchmark TA-35 index ended unchanged at 1,448.56 points while the TA-125 fell 0.15% to 1,314.10. Turnover surged to 2.29 billion shekels ($610 million) due to the expiry of the December contract on the TA-35 index (Maof). Bank and real estate shares were lower. Bank Hapoalim fell 3% to 23.33 shekels and Bank Leumi 1.9% to 22.81. Among property stocks, Summit declined 2.9% to 30.46 and Gazit Globe 2.6% to 26.32. Dual-listed shares basked in the glow of New York’s rally Wednesday – TowerJazz closed 5% higher at 54.05, Perrigo 3.4% at 147.90 and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 3.3% at 58.85. Paz Oil fell 0.3% to 552.20. The company said it extended its contract with the Palestinian Authority to sell petroleum products in the West Bank and Gaza for two more years. (Michael Rochvarger)