Business Roundup / Debt Money Raised, Health Ministry Sick

Alrov and Housing & Construction manage to scrape together NIS 400 million, while the Health Ministry growls over a proposed budget cut.

Debt offerings succeed: Though the market has been more than cool to corporate bonds, two companies managed to raise NIS 400 million together on Thursday. Alrov Real Estate held the institutional phase of its debt offering. Mazal tov: Charmed by the oversubscription, the company upped its offering from NIS 160 million to NIS 190 million. Then there's Housing & Construction, owned by Bank Hapoalim's controlling shareholder Shari Arison, which received NIS 200 million. But that was a private placement of bonds to institutional investors, who have to sit on the debt for at least six months before hawking it on the market.

Air conditioner maker rated A1: Electra received an investment-grade A1 rating from Midroog ahead of its planned NIS 60 million bond offering, through expanding an existing bond series. Electra, which also makes elevators, will be using the proceeds of the offering to repay some debt. Midroog liked the company's diversified activities, customer base and no less, its NIS 6.6 billion backlog of orders. Much of that is orders from the army as it moves bases from central Israel (where land is expensive) to the Negev desert (where it isn't).

Health Min. sick over budget cuts: Top officials at the Health Ministry are fighting like lions over the proposed NIS 35 million-a-year budget cut being threatened by the Finance Ministry, which is in fact cutting all budgets of all ministries. Mainly the sick would suffer, commented the office of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. (For all Netanyahu's government being the largest in Israeli history, Health has no minister.) "I told the Finance Ministry that not only won't the Health Ministry budget be cut, it will be augmented," Ministry Director-General Roni Gamzu told TheMarker.

We shall see.

Do the math: Elementary school is free in Israel, generally speaking, but parents are routinely tapped for extra payments, for instance for after-school classes. This year the extra payments will be anywhere from NIS 250 per child to NIS 1,370 for the year – or even more. The schools aren't supposed to demand more but enforcement is a feeble beast. Moreover, from this year the payments will be linked to the consumer price index. On the upside for cash-strapped parents, for the first time the Education Min is earmarking money (NIS 150 million) to help them make these extra payments.

Pluristem to present stem cell therapy in U.S.: Pluristem Therapeutics has received an invitation from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to submit its placenta-based stem cells to the agency for evaluation in treating acute radiation syndrome. The agency extended the invitation after Pluristem presented animal-model data showing that its proprietary PLX cells can help treat ARS, said Liat Flaishon, product and business development director at Pluristem. ARS results from exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation from a nuclear event, such as a nuclear power plant accident. Pluristem's chief financial officer, Yaky Yanai, said the financial potential of a radiation treatment would depend on stockpiling needs: If the U.S. stockpiles a million doses, this would be a multi-billion dollar agreement, he said.

BrainsGate gets U.S. nod to test stroke treatment: BrainsGate has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a clinical trial of its ischemic stroke treatment. The company, which is developing therapies for patients suffering from central nervous system diseases, has already begun trials on 176 people in 57 medical centers around the world. The FDA approval means it can now include patients from the United States as well. BrainsGate's solution aims to enable doctors to treat an ischemic stroke up to 24 hours after it occurs - a considerably wider window than existing treatments, such tPA proteins, which can be used no more than four and a half hours after a stroke. The company said it expects to complete the trials by the fourth quarter of 2013.

With reporting by Eran Azran, Lior Dattel, Yoram Gabison and Reuters