Business in Brief: Rocket Attacks Send Tel Aviv Shares Lower in Final Half Hour of Trade

Bezeq moves step closer to merger of three operating subsidiaries ■ Trading suspended in bonds of U.S. property developer Brookland ■ Rocket attacks send Tel Aviv shares lower in final half hour of trade

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel October 27, 2018.
REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Rocket attacks send Tel Aviv shares lower in final half hour of trade

A rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel caused shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to drop sharply late in the session Monday. The benchmark TA-35  index turned down 1% in the minutes after 5 P.M. on the news and closed down nearly 0.6% for the day at 1,694.32 points. The TA-125 index lost 0.6% to 1,480.69 on turnover of 1.29 billion shekels ($350 million). Bank shares were big losers: Hapoalim declined 1.55% to close at 26.01, Leumi 1.5% to 24.31 and Israel Discount down 1.3% to 12.92. TowerJazz dropped 4.2% to 53.70, extending a month of declines that has seen its share price plunge 27%. Gilat Satellite fell 8.6% to 35.97 after it revised 2018 revenue projections to as low as $265 million from as high as $305 million. Kamada added 1.7% to end at 20.27. Its net loss widened more than tenfold year on year in the third quarter but it said it expected to meet its 2018 projections. (Eran Azran)

Trading suspended in bonds of U.S. property developer Brookland

Trading in Brookland Upreal bonds was suspended on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Monday after the New York-based property company called a meeting of bondholders for Tuesday. S&P Maalot added Brookland to its credit watch list with a “negative” outlook. The developments came after TheMarker reported that the company would need to reschedule debt. Israeli investors hold about 150 million shekels ($40.7 million) in Brookland bonds, whose prices dropped as much as 5% to lift their yield to junk levels of 30% before trading was suspended. Brookland’s problems appear to stem from its failure to sell assets as it had planned in order to boost its cash position. The company, controlled by Israel Boaz Gilad, was among the first of a wave of U.S. property companies to sell bonds in Tel Aviv, issuing two series in 2014 and 2015. The company declined Monday to comment beyond its official TASE statements. (Eran Azran)

Bezeq moves step closer to merger of three operating subsidiaries

Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications company, took a step forward Monday in its long-awaited plan to merge its Pelephone, Yes and Bezeq International units to help it compete more effectively. The company said Moti Elmaliach was stepping down as CEO of Bezeq International, clearing the way for Ran Guron to take his job. The CEO of Pelephone, Bezeq’s cellular unit, Guron has already taken on the role as CEO of Yes, the satellite television unit. Taking on the Bezeq International job will give the three units a single CEO as a preliminary step to a full merger. Meanwhile, TheMarker has learned that Ilan Segal, now Pelephone’s marketing chief, will be named head of marketing for all three subsidiaries and report to Guron. Bezeq is merging the three units amid delays in regulatory approval to merge the three into Bezeq itself to create a seamless management and operational structure. Bezeq shares ended up 1% at 4.47 shekels ($1.21). (Nati Tucker)

Opko Health shares gyrate amid concerns over cash situation

Opko Health shares went on a roller-coaster ride on the  Tel Aviv Stock Exchange over the last two days amid worries about its cash situation. The Miami-based health care holding company reported Friday that it burned through $22 million in cash during the third quarter, leaving it with just $44 million. That compares with $194 million in cash at the end of 2015. A day before the quarterly report was issued, Opko raised more than $150 million, mostly from controlling shareholder Phillip Frost, who bought $70 million of a $92.5 million share offering and agreed to provide the company with a $60 million credit line. The five-year credit line carries an interest rate of 10%. Without the cash infusion, many investors worried that Opko would not have had the money to continue operations for the next 12 months. Opko shares, which fell 10.6% Sunday, ended up 5.9% in Tel Aviv on Monday at 13.23 shekels ($3.59). (Yoram Gabison)