The Ticker

Business in Brief: Teva Directors to Take Pay Cut

Israel selling $2 billion in dollar bonds; Antitrust decision on Mizrahi-Union tie-up needs more time; China angst sends stocks lower

A tourist poses for a photo with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries employees protesting outside Jerusalem's Old City, December 24, 2017.
Amir Cohen / Reuters

Directors at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are taking a 50% pay cut, a board member said Wednesday. This pay cut that the board took upon itself was done the same day that the cuts and job reductions were discussed, board member Dan Suesskind said at the Israel Business Conference in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Teva said it had reached an agreement with workers on closing its inhaler factory in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, ending weeks of labor unrest at the facility. Under the agreement reached between Teva, the Histadrut labor federation and company unions, up to 60 workers will leave by the end of February, while the remaining 180 will stay until the facility is shut in December 2019. Earlier this month workers from an adjacent tablet plant, which employs 500 people, reached an agreement with Teva on closing that factory by the end of 2019. Teva shares ended up 0.9% at 67.23 shekels ($19.63). (Tali Heruti-Sover and Reuters)

Israel selling $2 billion of 10- and 30-year dollar bonds

The government is tapping international markets with a sale of 10- and 30-year dollar-denominated bonds, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. The treasury offered no further details, but market sources said the issue was for $2 billion and was being offered in two tranches of $1 billion each – one at 75 basis points over U.S. treasuries due January 2028 and one at 125 points more due in January 2048. Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Citibank will serve as underwriters. A ministry delegation in London and the United States has met some of the worlds largest foreign investors to examine demand in global markets, the ministry said. Israel, which seeks to alternate annual bond issues between the dollar and the euro, last issued $1.5 billion of dollar-denominated bonds in March 2016, followed by an issue of 2.25 billion euros last January. Israeli debt is rated Israel is rated A1/A+/A+. (Reuters)

Antitrust decision on Mizrahi-Union merger to take four more months

A decision on whether to approve Mizrahi-Tefahot Banks $400 million purchase of Union Bank of Israel should take four months, Antitrust Authority Commissioner Michal Halperin said Wednesday. The merger will be looked at until we have an answer for every question, Halperin told the annual Israel Business Conference, adding that it would likely take four months. Mizrahi-Tefahot, with a market value of 15.3 billion shekels ($4.5 billion), said it had agreed to buy Union, with a market value of 1.4 billion shekels, in an all-share deal, saying the merged bank would be better able to compete with the top two lenders, Hapoalim and Leumi, which together control 60% of the market. The banking regulator supports the merger, saying it would create a stronger competitor for the two dominant lenders. But the move is opposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Economy Minister Eli Cohen and several other politicians. (Reuters)

Report on China purchases of U.S. bonds sends TA stocks, dollar lower

Tel Aviv shares and the dollar fell Wednesday after a report that China is considering slowing or halting purchases of U.S. government debt. The benchmark TA-35 index lost 0.8% to 1,516.89 points, while the TA-125 fell 0.9% to a close of 1,380.00 on turnover of 1.16 billion shekels ($340 million). The dollar weakened more than 0.4% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.4290 shekels and fell further to 3.429 in after-hour trading. Dual-listed stocks paced declines, with Mylan down 2.7% to 150 shekels and Perrigo off 1.6% to 307.50. Other dual-listed losers included TowerJazz, which tumbled 3.2% to 119.40, Elbit Systems, which dropped 2.1% to 453.30, and Nice Systems, which fell 1.4% to 319.90. Bezeq fell 1.3% to 5.23, Internet Gold tumbled 3.5% to 30.09 and B Communications dropped 3.2% to 60.02. But Israel Corporation rallied 3.6% to 616.30. (Guy Erez)