Business in Brief: Three Interviewed for Top Bank of Israel Job

Elbit’s IMI takeover wins antitrust approval ■ Brainsway soars after U.S. approves device to treat obsessive compulsive disorder ■ Tel Aviv shares mark second day of big gains

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, July 25, 2018.
אלכס קולמויסקי

Elbit’s IMI takeover wins antitrust approval

Removing the last obstacle to the controversial deal,  Israel’s Antitrust Authority on Sunday approved Elbit Systems’ takeover of state-owned IMI System. The acquisition had aroused concerns that Elbit would be supplying 30% of Defense Ministry procurements and play too big a role in the supply chain of other Israeli defense firms.  But the authority said it was not concerned about competition because the Defense Ministry is in effect a monopoly customer that can serve as a counterweight. “In particular, it was found that the overlap between the activities of Elbit and IMI is relatively marginal, and that in the overlapping areas there is competition from suppliers in Israel or abroad,” the authority added. Elbit agreed in June it would buy IMI for up to $522 million pending antitrust approval. Israel’s biggest private sector defense contractor, Elbit ended up being the only bidder among five groups that had shown an interest. Elbit shares finished up 1.6% at 433.30 shekels ($118.37). (Hagai Amit)

Brainsway soars after U.S. approves device to treat obsessive compulsive disorder

Shares of Brainsway, the Israeli maker of headsets to treat brain disorders noninvasively, soared on Sunday on news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. The company’s Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. Brainsway got approval for TMS for treating major depression in 2008 and approval for treating pain associated with certain forms of migraine headaches in 2013. OCD, whose sufferers have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors they feel the urge to repeat over and over, affects about 1% of all U.S. adults in a given year, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. It is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Brainsway said to date it is the only company offering a non-drug alternative for treating OCD. Brainsway shares ended up 14.3% at 19.64 shekels ($5.37). (Guy Erez)  

Three interviewed for top Bank of Israel job

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon interviewed three candidates on Sunday for Bank of Israel governor, the treasury said. They candidates were the Israeli academic economists Ben-Zion Zilberfarb and Efraim Sadka as well as Mario Blejer, the Argentinian economist who had originally been scheduled to be interviewed last week. Netanyahu and Kahlon face a November 13 deadline to fill the post now held by Karnit Flug. Sadka, who sits on the Bank of Israel’s supervisory council, is a professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University. Zilberfarb is a professor at Bar-Ilan University and a dean at the Netanya Academic College. He was treasury director general in the 1990s, Blejer, who had been a candidate for the job in 2013, had a career at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and was briefly head of Argentina’s central bank. As a well-known figure from overseas of the kind Netanyahu reportedly prefer, Blejer has been regarded as the front runner. (TheMarker Staff)

Tel Aviv shares mark second day of big gains

Tel Aviv shares rose strongly for a second session in a row, lifted for a second time by a rally in Teva Pharmaceutical’s shares (see story on this page).  Extending storing Thursday advances, the TA-35 and TA-125 indices’ both rose more than 0.7% on Sunday to 1,594.43 and 1,428.15 points, respectively, on turnover of 410 million shekels ($112 million). Earnings reports drive many stocks higher: Foix jumped 5.9% to 80.34 shekels after it reported that sensed-quarter net grew to 41.1 million shekels from 31.4 million a year ago and Migdal Insurance gained 2% to 3.78 on an increase in profit to 261 million from 141 million. Fattal Holdings advanced 1.7% to 386.30. it reported it was buying a Scottish hotel for 52 million pounds ($66.3 million). Bank stocks were mostly lower, led by an 0.9% drop for Hapoalim to 25.55. Super-Sol fell 1.3% to 23.18. In foreign currency trading Friday, the dollar weakened 0.5% to 3.6690 shekels. (Eran Azran)