Business in Brief: Pelephone Loses 9,000 Subscribers After Multiple Network Failures

ECI Telecom weighs going public again ■ Otzar Ha’Hayal to be merged into First Int’l ■ TASE rises in session between holidays

A Pelephone stand
Tomer Appelbaum

ECI Telecom weighs going public again

ECI Telecom, the Israeli maker of telecom equipment, is planning to return to the stock market after an 11-year absence. The company, which is now closely held by a group led by Shaul Shani, said on Thursday it was weighing an initial public offering of $230 million later this year or in early 2019 on the London Stock Exchange. If it goes ahead, the offering will be managed by Barclays and UBS. “The offer would be comprised of new shares to be issued by the company, to raise gross proceeds of approximately $230 million, and a potential offer of existing shares to be sold by the selling shareholder,” ECI said. ECI, which provides networking and data transport products, had revenue of $197.7 million and a loss of $18.8 million in the first half, up from sales of $159 million and a $34.3 million loss a year earlier. (Eran Azran)

Pelephone loses 9,000 subscribers after multiple network failures

Pelephone, Bezeq’s mobile subsidiary, lost a net 9,000 subscribers approximately in early September after the company experienced multiple network failures, TheMarker has learned. The drop, which covers the period September 2-13, came after a period when Pelephone had been a net gainer in subscribers. As recently as August, the company had increased its subscriber count by 1,400. The two biggest beneficiaries from the exodus were Xfone, whose We4G service gained about 4,800 new subscribers, and Partner Communications, which enjoyed an increase of 1,800. Although Pelephone took out of service the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers it had been installing and blamed for the problem, it was still losing subscribers as of Monday this week, when 780 cancelled their accounts. Bezeq shares finished up 2.4% at 4.46 shekels ($1.25). (Nati Tucker)

Otzar Ha’Hayal to be merged into First Int’l

First International Bank of Israel’s board on Thursday approved merging its Bank Otzar Ha’Hayal unit into the parent bank. The move comes eight months after FIBI acquired the 22% of Otzar Ha’Hayal it didn’t own from the Hever Association, a nonprofit providing services to career soldiers. FIBI aims to complete the merger by the end of the year, but faces opposition from unions representing Otzar Ha’Hayal’s approximately 740 employees. The bank said discussions it held with the Histadrut labor federation and workers committee yielded no agreement. FIBI said Otzar Ha’Hayal would continue to operate under its own name but that it would be laying off employees. Shares of FIBI, which said the layoffs would entail a 26 million shekel ($7.3 million) after-tax charge, ended up 1.2% at 84.05 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

TASE rises in session between holidays

Share prices on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose after traders came back from the Yom Kippur holiday for one day before leaving for a long Sukkot weekend. Trading resumes Tuesday. The benchmark TA-35 index finished up 0.6% at 1,670.26 points, while the TA-125 rose 0.7% to 1,505.04, on turnover of 2.18 shekels ($610 million). Teva Pharmaceuticals rose 2.2% to end at 88.48 shekels and Elbit Systems gained 3.5% to 484.80. Elbit said on Thursday it won a $173 million contract from the navy and coast guard of an unmade Asia-Pacific country. Compugen advanced 1.2% to 13.95 after it said it would be getting a $7.8 million milestone payment from Bayer AG in connection with immuno-oncology therapeutic antibody targeting the ILDR2 protein. Opko Health extended its rebound for a third session, jumping 8.3% to 15.94. Leading the losers, Camtek slumped 4.9% to 29.53 and Nice 4.8% to 408.80 (Michael Rochvarger)