Business in Brief: TASE CEO Says Government Is Undercutting Capital Markets

Tel Aviv shares mark their fifth rise in last six sessions ■ Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway sees Teva holding lose $264 million in value ■ Ratio Petroleum soars on start of Guyana oil exploration ■ Plus500 admits to typo that misled investors about losses

File photo: Ittai Ben-Zeev, CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, gestures during a Bloomberg Television interview in Tel Aviv, March 28, 2018.
Corinna Kern/Bloomberg

TASE CEO says government is undercutting capital markets

Ittai Ben-Zeev, the CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, took the Israeli government to task on Sunday for anti-business policies he said are undercutting the capital markets. “Jerusalem’s intentions are good, but they don’t always act on them,” he told a conference on initial public offerings in Tel Aviv. “If the State of Israel wants to grow, it needs to embrace the business sector. IPOs, the level of public investment in the bourse and pension investments – none of these are where they should be. Some of this is due to poor financial education, part to populism and part to mistakes.” As Israel heads into elections, Ben-Zeev also faulted the parties for failing to present policy platforms regarding the capital markets.” The elections are an opportunity for politicians to raise the gauntlet and begin talking about the pension savings of the Israeli public, which is mostly invested in the stock exchange,” he said. (Eran Azran)

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway sees Teva holding lose $264 million in value

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of the Wall Street legend Warren Buffett, saw the value of its holding in Teva Pharmaceuticals fall by $264 million in the fourth quarter of last year, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows. Buffet’s company first reported it had bought Teva stock a year ago and by the end of the second quarter had accumulated 43.2 million shares, or 4.2% of the company. Berkshire Hathaway didn’t further increase its Teva holding in the second, half, the filing showed. Berkshire Hathaway’s Teva investment spurred a lot of excitement given Buffett’s reputation, but the company has given investors a bumpy ride as its struggles with plunging sales of Copaxone, a difficult U.S. market for generic drugs and an enormous debt load. Last week, Teva forecast a weak 2019, causing its shares to plunge. On Friday, however, they closed 4.1% up at $17.98. (Yoram Gabison)

Ratio Petroleum soars on start of Guyana oil exploration

Ratio Petroleum shares soared on Sunday after the company reported that ExxonMobil and Hess would begin exploratory drilling at an offshore field in Guyana the companies hold. The ExxonMobil, the operating partner in the Kaieteur block, decided to go ahead after some five billion barrels of oil was discovered in the adjoining Stabroek block. “In 2012, we applied for rights to the Kaieteur block confident that the Guyana-Suriname basin will become a producing basin. Since then, they have discovered 12 oil fields adjacent to our block. These findings increase the changes of discovering oil in the Kaieteur block,” said Eitan Eisenberg, Ratio Petroleum’s geologist. Ratio owns 25% of the Kaieteur, with ExxonMobil controlling 35%, Hess 15% and local investors the rest. Ratio Petroleum, which also has interests in Suriname, Malta, Ireland and the Philippines, ended up 44.5% at 2.46 shekels (68 cents). (Eran Azran) 

Plus500 admits to typo that misled investors about 2017 losses

Plus500, the Israeli financial betting company traded on the London Stock Exchange, said on Friday that a typo in its last annual report had left investors thinking it had not suffered losses from client trading activity in 2017 when it had in fact taken a $103 million hit. Confirming the error after The Times of London first revealed it, the company said the words “or losses” had been wrongly included due to a drafting error in a sentence from the from the report that read: “In 2017, as in 2016 and 2015, the company did not generate net revenues or losses from market P&L.” It added that the error did not have any impact on previously reported revenues, profits or the balance sheet of the company but Plus500 shares plunged 12.2% to 922 pence ($11.82) on Friday. The typo came days after the company warned that revenue and profit would fall short of analysts’ expectations in the current year. (TheMarker Staff)

Tel Aviv shares mark their fifth rise in last six sessions

Tel Aviv shares traded sideways all day on Sunday but still managed to mark their fifth day of gains over the last six trading sessions. The benchmark TA-35 index closed 0.7% higher at 1,567.72 points, while the TA-125 added 0.6% to 1,427.96, on turnover of 562 million shekels ($155 million). Among gainers, Africa Properties rose 2.2% to 95.81 shekels, cementing gains on last week’s news that an investment group was forming to buy it in place of Moty Ben-Moshe. Aeronautics advanced 3.2% to 14.30 after Rafael’s board approved plan to buy the maker of military drones. Alony Hetz added 0.6% to 39.06 after it said it was in talks to buy two London office buildings for 970 million shekels. Property & Building Limited edged up 0.2% to 302.50. Segi Eitan, its CEO for the past 14 years, said on Sunday she was stepping down. Among blue chip losers, Nice dropped 1.95% to 417.30. In foreign currency trading, the dollar lost close to 0.6% on Friday to a representative rate of 3.6410 shekels. The euro weakened 0.5% to 1.106 (Shelly Appelberg)