Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares Eke Out Gain Despite Teva Sell-off

Bond sales climbed 40% in January to reach 7.5 billion shekels; former IDB chief Nochi Dankner suspended from Bar Association; Goldman Sachs chosen to head sale of Bank Leumi credit card unit.

A large digital ticker shows financial information to pedestrians outside the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.
Rina Castelnuovo, Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs chosen to head sale of Bank Leumi credit card unit

The U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs will manage the sale of Bank Leumi’s Leumicard credit card unit, the lender said on Tuesday. 

Goldman beat out Citi, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch-Bank of America and others for the job of selling the unit, which could be worth about 3 billion shekels ($800 million). Leumi and Bank Hapoalim both face a deadline in another three years to sell their credit card units as part of a government drive to increase competition in the consumer lending sector.  

Leumi controls 98.5% of Leumicard, whose 26% market share made it the second-biggest card issuer in Israel after Hapoalim’s Isracard. Sources said Leumi prefers to sell the subsidiary to a single buyer, but it may end up taking the unit public. Hanan Friedman, the new head of Leumi’s strategic and regulatory unit, will oversee the sale with Leumi Partners CEO Yaron Bloch. Shares of Leumi  edged down 0.06% to 15.57 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)

Former IDB chief Nochi Dankner suspended from Bar Association

Nochi Dankner, the tycoon who once controlled the IDB group, was suspended from the Israel Bar Association on Tuesday, six months after he was convicted of securities violations. 

Dankner was convicted of manipulating the shares of his IDB Holding Corporation in July, but only on Monday did the IBA’s ethics committee ask the organization’s disciplinary court to order him suspended, saying “the offenses he has been convicted of are serious and dishonorable.” The disciplinary committee apparently only acted after journalist Sharon Shpurer wrote a series about its failure to act.

Dankner, who consented to the decision, was a lawyer before he went into business and won control of the IDB conglomerate. In 2005 he asked to suspend his IBA membership but in November 2014 applied to have it restored, apparently in order to have unrestricted visiting rights for his cousin, Danny Dankner, who was in jail at the time. (Jasmin Gueta) 

Bond sales climbed 40% in January to reach 7.5 billion shekels

The Israeli bond market was 7.5 billion shekels ($2 billion) in new issues in January, 490% more than in December and in January a year ago, the ratings agency S&P Maalot said on Tuesday. 

Although it was short of the record issues in March and September last year, S&P said the January figure signaled continued strong activity in the market for the rest of the year. “The forecasts are for a rate rise in Israel only in the final quarter of 2017, so margins and yields are expected to remain low and market conditions will continue supporting debt issues,” said Ronit Harel-Been-Zeev, CEO of S&P Maalot. She said the market uncertainty created by U.S. President Donald Trump hasn’t had a major impact on the market so far.

Equity fundraising was also strong in January, with companies raising 550 million shekels, Leader Capital Markets said in a separate report, which added that prospects for the next few months remained good for more new issues. (Uri Tomer)

Tel Aviv shares eke out gain, despite massive Teva sell-off

Tel Aviv shares eked out a small gain Tuesday despite a huge sell-off of Teva Pharmaceutical shares, while the euro gained sharply against the shekel and the dollar fell. 

The blue chip TA-25 index edged up 0.07% to end at 1,408.29 points, while the TA-100 added 0.2% to 1,242.96, on turnover of 1.59 billion shekels ($420 million). Insurers rallied, with Migdal ahead 3% at 3.35 shekels and IDI up 3.1% to 185.50. Mylan rose 2.8% to close at 140.70. Although the drug maker faces a U.S. antitrust probe over its EpiPen device, it was also a victor in the Teva case.

Mazor Robotics climbed 5% to 42.28. The euro strengthened 0.8% against a Bank of Israel rate of 4.0546 shekels while the dollar lost 0.4% to 3.760 after comments by U.S. President Donald Trump and trade adviser Peter Navarro that hinted that they were seeking to talk down the greenback. (Omri Zerachovitz)