Business in Brief: Shares, Dollar Gain After Holiday Weekend

Paz chairman quits, citing differences with board, management ■ Two ex-Phoenix executives lead race to head Capital Markets Authority ■ Teva loses court bid to block Lilly migraine product in the U.S.

A stock market ticker displays financial information to pedestrians outside the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Israel, on Thursday, August 4, 2016
Bloomberg

Paz chairman quits, citing differences with board, management

Yitzhak Ezer, chairman of Paz Oil, Israel’s biggest energy-distribution company, said Tuesday he was resigning, effective immediately, due to differences with board members and management. “For a while, there have been deep disagreements between me — and not only between me — and most of the members of the board of directors and management on the way to manage the company, its organizational structure and its future strategy,” Ezer said in a resignation letter released by Paz. He added that unspecified recommendations by the board’s appointments committee “raise serious questions” over Paz’s corporate governance. Paz did not comment on the resignation but said Gabriel Rotter, who has been a director since 2010, would serve as chairman on a temporary basis. CEO Yona Fogel reportedly pushed for the resignation of Ezer, who had served on the board since 2005 and was appointed chairman of Paz in 2016. Paz shares ended 1.3% higher at 578 shekels ($158.36). (Michael Rochvarger and Assa Sasson)

Gamida Cell slates $70 million intiail public offering on Wall Street

Gamida Cell, an Israeli company developing cell therapies to cure cancer and rare hematologic diseases, has slated an initial public offering on Wall Street, its parent companies said Tuesday. The news comes after it filed a confidential prospectus in early September; the fact that the company is going public with it means an offering is in the works. The number of shares to be offered and the price range have not yet been released, but sources said they expected Gamida Cell to raise $70 million at a $300 million valuation. Its biggest shareholders are Israel’s Clal Biotechnology and Swiss drugmaker Novartis, each with an 18% stake, and Elbit Technologies with 14%. Gamida Cell’s proprietary nicotinamide-based cell-expansion technology is being used to address the limitations of existing cell therapies. Its most advanced candidate, NiCord, which has the potential to serve as a universal curative stem cell graft, is entering Phase 3 trials. (Assa Sasson)

Two ex-Phoenix executives lead race to head Capital Markets Authority

Ben Sheizaf and Moshe Bareket, two former executives at Phoenix Insurance Company, are the top candidates for chairman of Israel’s Capital Market, Insurance and Saving Authority, sources said Tuesday. Sheizaf, who served as vice president for long-term savings and life risks at Phoenix for 10 years before stepping down in July, is believed to be the preferred candidate. The decision now lies with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. At Phoenix, Sheizaf pioneered a passive investment strategy that opted for index-based investments rather than picking stocks and bonds. Bareket was chairman of Phoenix until October 2014 in an era when the company was dominated by CEO Eyal Lapidot. Before that, Barket worked at the Israel Securities Authority and for Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group, Phoenix’s controlling shareholder. The authority, which was headed by Dorit Salinger until she quit in August without a successor, is an independent unit of the treasury responsible for the pension and insurance industry.  (Assa Sasson)

Teva loses court bid to block Lilly migraine product in the U.S.

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits by Teva Pharmaceuticals that sought to block Eli Lilly & Company from bringing its migraine drug Emgality to the U.S. market. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs in Boston said the lawsuits failed to raise an actual controversy that would allow her to rule in advance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approving Lilly’s product on whether it infringed Teva’s patents. The FDA approved Teva’s own migraine drug, Ajovy, on September 14. Meanwhile Brazilian drugmaker EMS is interested in acquiring Iceland-based generic drugmaker Medis, which has been put up for sale by Teva a year ago, the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported Tuesday. Citing unnamed sources, the paper said EMS is looking for financing for its potential bid. The sale is part of Teva´s restructuring plan, which included layoffs and plant closures. Teva shares ended down fell 1.25% to 78.73 ($21.57). (Reuters)

Shares, dollar gain after holiday weekend

Tel Aviv shares rose after a long holiday weekend while the dollar strengthened sharply against the shekel. The benchmark TA-35 index closed up more than 0.45% to 1,650.27 points, while the TA-125 added 0.5% to 1,491.81, on turnover of 1.35 billion shekels ($370 million). Among top gainers, Israel Chemicals rose 3.8% to 23.04 shekels and Clal Insurance climbed 3.4% to 70.84. Arad finished 5.7% up at 44.36 after it said it had agreed to acquire Italy’s Watertech Spa for 16 million euros ($18.5 million). Avgol rose 2.5% to 4.13 after CEO David Meldram said he was stepping down. Elbit Systems advanced 0.8% to 465. Its U.K. subsidiary was awarded a $13 million contract that could reach four times that amount by the British Defense Ministry for a battlefield management system. Decliners were paced by a 5% drop to 12.25 for Opko Health. In foreign currency trading, the dollar gained over 0.6% to a representative rate of 3.65 shekels. (Eran Azran)