Business in Brief: Teva Threatened With Strike at Main Plant for Making Top-selling Copaxone Drug

Two reach plea deal in fraud case ■ Brookland’s controlling shareholder quits ■ Radware buys Indian company ■ stocks extend gains

Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on December 11, 2014.
Ariel Jerozolimski/Bloomberg

Teva threatened with strike at main plant for making Copaxone

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ main site for making its top-selling Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug may suffer a strike in two weeks after workers declared a labor dispute Sunday night. Sales of the drug have been hit hard by competition from new generic versions, but it still had third-quarter 2018 sales of $463 million, making it by far Teva’s best-selling product. Eliran Kozlik, who heads the workers committee at the Kfar Sava plant, said the dispute was declared after talks over a new collective labor agreement had reached a dead end, a year after the last contract expired. The plant employs 1,600 people, of whom 1,370 belong to the union, and has not been among those affected by the company’s cost-cutting drive. But Teva said that it could no longer afford to raise salaries as it has in the past. Shares of Teva, which has a backup facility for making Copaxone near Liverpool, ended 0.8% higher at 65.03 shekels ($17.54). (Yoram Gabison)


Two reach plea bargain over charges connected with Willi-Food

Gregory Gurtovoy, the former controlling shareholder of G. Willi-Food International group, and a top executive, Yosef Schneorson, agreed to a plea bargain that will convict them of reduced charges. In an amended indictment, Schneorson is accused of abetting theft of about 250,000 shekels ($67,000), while Gurtovoy is charged with aggravated fraud amounting to $3 million. Both are also charged with fraud and breach of trust, false registration of documents and reporting offenses under Israel’s Securities Law. Schneorson will serve three years in prison and Gurtovoy 31 months under the deal as well as pay a 1.2-million-shekel fine. Completion of the agreement hinges on a third figure in the case, Alexander Granovsky, returning to Israel, but Judge Chaled Kabub is expected to approve the deal next month. The charges relate to the period after 2013 when first Granovsky and later Gurtovoy controlled the publicly traded food importer. (Efrat Neuman


Brookland’s controlling shareholder quits in protest against bondholders

Boaz Gilad, chairman and controlling shareholder of Brookland April, quit on Monday, protesting bondholders’ taking over the financially troubled New York property developer last week. In addition, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange suspended trading of Brookland bonds after the company failed to release its third-quarter 2018 financial results. Just before the announcement, its Series Bet bonds were trading at just 28 agorot (8 cents), or a yield of 173%. “Negotiators with investors and creditors were conducted without consulting with him and without his knowledge,” Brookland said in explaining Gilad’s decision. “The behavior in this context was aggressive and doesn’t reflect any intention of restoring the company to health in a way that would enable the chairman to fulfil his role in the company faithfully.” Chief Financial Officer Noa Poran also stepped down. Bondholders, who are owed about 150 million shekels, have been in debt talks with Brookland for the two months. (Eran Azran)


Radware buys Indian maker of bot-protection software

Radware, an Israeli maker of cybersecurity solutions, said Monday it had agreed to acquire ShieldSquare, an Indian provider of bot-protection technology. Radware didn’t say how much it was paying for the company but sources estimated the price tag at between $15 million and $20 million. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2019. Founded in 2014, ShieldSquare’s solution identifies a visitor to a website or mobile app as a real person, search-engine crawler, or bad bot that might, for instance, be stealing content. It allows the first category in and blocks bots. “Bot management can stand alone as product offerings as well as integrate into our suite of attack mitigation solutions,” said Radware CEO Roy Zisapel. “We chose ShieldSquare because of their strong technology synergy, advanced machine learning capabilities, and the opportunity to expand Radware’s existing cloud security services.” Radware shares were up 0.3% at $22.83 in the late morning in New York. (Yoram Gabison)


Tel Aviv extends gains as Bezeq group rallies

Tel Aviv stocks extended gains Monday but in light trading, with the benchmark TA-35 index finishing 0.45% higher at 1,491.56 points. The TA-125 added nearly 0.5% to 1,353.21, on turnover of 1.02 billion shekels ($280 million). Bezeq jumped 2.5% to 3.67 shekels and its parent company B Communications led TA-125 gainers in a 11.7% rise to 24.15. Elbit Systems rose 1.6% to close at 452.20 after it won a $15 million contract to supply a security plan at the offshore Karish and Tanin gas fields. Nice was the volume leader but ended 1% lower at 395.90. Other losers were Delek Group on a 1.3% decline to 545 and Cellcom Israel on a 1.35% drop to 20.52. Housing & Construction ended 0.1% lower at 5.94 despite reports it was entering the energy business now that it is no longer subject to business-concentration restrictions under its new ownership. (Eran Azran)