Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Hires Comedian to Tout Investing in Shares

After year’s wait, KLA-Tencor’s acquisition of Orbotech to be completed Wednesday ■ U.S. hedge fund Starboard sells Mellanox stock at big profit ■ Tel Aviv shares eke out gain in thin trading

FILE Photo: Adi Ashkenazi at the Television Awards in 2016.
Moti Milrod

After year’s wait, KLA-Tencor’s acquisition of Orbotech to be completed Wednesday 

Nearly a year after it was first announced, the takeover by KLA-Tencor of Israel’s Orbotech will finally be completed later this week as it won Chinese antitrust approval. “Following a series of cooperative discussions, the State Administration for Market Regulation of the People’s Republic of China provided antitrust clearance for the proposed merger involving KLA and Orbotech,” the two companies said Monday, adding they expected to complete the merger Wednesday. KLA-Tencor, a U.S. company and one of the world’s biggest makers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, is paying $38.86 in cash and one-fourth of a share for each Orbotech share. The wait has cost Orbotech shareholders a combined $200 million because KLA-Tencor’s share price fell to $65.91 as of Friday from $69 in March, when the deal was announced. The $3.2 billion the deal is now worth still makes it one of the biggest mergers in Israel announced in 2018. (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange hires comedian to tout investing in shares

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has enlisted comedian Adi Ashkenazi for an ad campaign to begin Wednesday to persuade Israelis to invest in the stock market. “Ashkenazi has the ability to speak to people in a language they identify with,” TASE CEO Ittai Ben-Zeev told a news conference Monday. “Israelis think that to invest in stocks you need a lot of money. I want them to understand that you can invest just 20,000 shekels [$5,525]. It’s a matter of education.” The TASE also hopes to strike a partnership with a major consumer loyalty program under which members could invest 50 shekels in an index-linked financial instrument and receive discounts on trading fees. Amid years of low trading volumes, the exchange wants to dispel the conventional wisdom that investing in stocks is risky and that the best place to put your money for the long term is in real estate. (Shelly Appelberg)

U.S. hedge fund Starboard sells Mellanox stock at big profit

Starboard, the U.S. hedge fund that took Mellanox management to task for poor management and a lagging stock price, has divested a big block of its shares at a tidy profit. Starboard said it sold 1.78 million Mellanox shares at an average price of $95 over the last two weeks, more than double the average price it paid for them. The fund revealed it was a major shareholder in the Israeli semiconductor company in November 2017 and launched a campaign to shake up management and oust CEO Eyal Waldman. After months of fighting, the two sides reached a compromise in June. Meanwhile, Mellanox shares rose to a 6.5-year high amid reports that the company is seeking to be sold. Starboard, which had held as much as a 10.5% stake in Mellanox, is believed to have sold the shares to hedge against the possibility a sale might not happen. It still retains a 5.9% holding. (Yoram Gabison) 

Tel Aviv shares eke out gain in thin trading

Tel Aviv shares eked out another session of gains Monday as the U.S. Presidents Day holiday kept foreign investors out of the picture and reduced trading. The benchmark TA-35 index ended just 0.05% higher at 1,568.55 points, while the TA-125 added 0.07% to 1,428.92, on turnover of just 654 million shekels ($181 million). Most shares traded in a narrow price range, but insurers Phoenix and Harel each gained 2% to end at 290.44 shekels and 25.35 shekels, respectively. Among losers, Greek energy company Energean led TA-125 shares lower on a 3% drop to 31.72. Other losers included Cellcom Israel, which ended 1.6% lower at 18.50, and Housing & Construction Limited, which fell 1.1% to 6.34. In foreign currency trading, the euro slipped 0.1% to a representative rate of 4.1006 shekels, its weakest in a year. The dollar lost nearly 0.6% to 3.62 shekels. (Michael Rochvarger)