Business in Brief: PetroTx Becomes Accidental Producer of Dead Sea Oil

Super-Sol launches apparel shopping and travel websites ■ Citing market conditions, ECI Telecom delays London initial public offering ■ No need to raise interest rates yet, says deputy Bank of Israel governor ■ Shares post mild drop while bond prices slump on rate-hike fears

FILE Photo: An oil rig is seen near the Dead Sea
Eliana Aponte/Reuters

Super-Sol launches apparel shopping and travel websites

Super-Sol, Israel’s largest supermarket chain, on Sunday launched its American Outlet and Super-Sol Travel websites for low-cost apparel and travel deals. “Our deep experience in online shopping has enabled us to expand our operations today to new areas while offering a personalized experience tailored to each of our customers,” CEO Itzik Aberkohen told a news conference. American Outlets will offer shoppers 2.5 million fashion items from the United States at what it said are “outlet prices.”  Super-Sol Travel, which is being launched with the online travel agency Gulliver, will offer low-cost flights, hotels and tour packages to members of Super-Sol’s customers club. In addition, Super-Sol said it was planning a new interface for its existing site that will offer personal advisory services as well as appliances, furniture and other items in addition to the food sold until now. The upgrade will be fully operational in first-quarter 2019, it said. Super-Sol shares ended off 0.5% at 23.68 shekels ($6.41). (Hadar Kane)

PetroTx becomes accidental producer of Dead Sea oil

PetroTx, a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange traded energy company controlled by three former Noble Energy executives, said on Sunday it had gotten temporary approval to produce and sell oil from the Dead Sea after the release of excess pressure from a sealed well yielded 500 barrels. The Tzuk Tadmor well may produce more, the company said. Meanwhile, PetroTx said it was seeking to raise 80 million shekels ($21.7 million) in a sale of bonds and a rights offering to buy three natural gas properties in Mississippi and two more in Texas under development. PetroTx, which was known as Zerach until it was acquired 18 months ago by ex-Noble executives Colin Sinclair, Ken Stanley and Doug Smith, said the three Mississippi properties had 45 billion cubic feet of gas and 87,000 barrels of oil and the Texas sites 5.7 billion and 41,000, respectively. PetroTx shares ended 2.9% lower at 57 agorot. (Eran Azran)

Citing market conditions, ECI Telecom delays London initial public offering

ECI Telecom said over the weekend it was delaying its return to the stock market due to volatile market conditions. The maker of telecommunications equipment, which had traded on Wall Street before being taken private by tech entrepreneur Shaul Shani, had planned an initial public offering in London of between 100 million and 150 million pounds ($130 million-$195 million). The company ascribed the delay to “global market conditions,” but it’s possible that ECI opted to delay the IPO after institutional investors indicated an unwillingness to buy the stock at the 500 million pound valuation the company was seeking. ECI announced in September it would sell the shares during the fourth quarter on the basis of its six-month results, which showed revenues had grown 24% year on year to $198 million while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $30 million had more than doubled. But heavy financial costs left it with a $20 million loss. (Eran Azran)

No need to raise interest rates yet, says deputy Bank of Israel governor

Conditions do not yet warrant a rise in interest rates, Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg said on Sunday, rejecting the view that higher rates are needed to provide “ammunition” in case of an economic downturn. Israel’s benchmark rate has been 0.1% since early 2015. “It takes as much work, integrity, and at times courage to hold rates as to change interest rates just to get a headline,” Baudot-Trajtenberg said at a farewell conference for Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug, whose term ends next week. Amir Yaron’s appointment as her successor has not yet been approved, so that Baudot-Trajtenberg will be acting governor and likely head the upcoming policy decision on November 2. “The level of the nominal interest rate does not constitute ammunition. It is the real level of interest (rates) that counts, in which case a higher inflation level is what would provide ammunition, not a higher nominal rate,” Baudot-Trajtenberg said. (Reuters)

Shares post mild drop while bond prices slump on rate-hike fears

Tel Aviv shares ended lower in heavy trading on Sunday as prices for government bonds sank amid concerns over rising Israeli and global interest rates. The TA-35 and TA-125 indices both ended down about 0.1% to end at 1,609.81 and 1,456.62 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.26 billion shekels ($340 million).  In the bond market the price for the government’s inflation-indexed bond due in 2045 dropped 1.21% to raise its yield to 1.748%. Its unlinked bond due to 2028 fell 0.285% to a yield of 2.31%. Leader Capital Markets noted in a comment on Sunday that foreign investment in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been growing since Standard & Poor’s raised Israel’s credit rating in August and is now running at a rate of $4 billion annually. In the stock market, Teva extended its Thursday rally, adding another 1% to end at 82.40 shekels. Strauss dropped 1.6% to 81.32. (Shelly Appelberg)