The Ticker: Delek Buys Rights to Sell Karish, Tanin Gas Fields

Hapoalim turns in higher quarterly profit – four days early; Bezeq sees higher profit in 2015; Williger brothers to leave top jobs at Willi-Food.


Hapoalim turns in higher quarterly profit – four days early

Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest lender, reported a bigger gain than expected rise in third-quarter net profit on Sunday, moving up its reporting day by four days due to an email error. The bank was due to announce its results on Thursday but was forced to move up the announcement after it accidentally sent a draft of the press release to analysts in an email scheduling its conference call. Hapoalim said it earned 802 million shekels ($206 million) in the quarter, up from 718 million a year earlier and above a forecast of 760 million according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net financing income edged up to 2.18 billion shekels from 2.16 billion, while its provision for credit losses fell to 55 million shekels from 80 million a year ago. Fees and other income increased 3.8%. Hapoalim’s core Tier 1 capital ratio to risk-weighted assets was 9.5%, according to Basel III standards, compared with 9.3% at the end of 2014. Hapoalim shares ended down 1.1% at 19.90 shekels.  (TheMarker Staff)

Bezeq sees higher profit in 2015

Bezeq on Sunday raised its 2015 net profit estimate to about 1.7 billion shekels ($437.5 million) from a previous forecast of 1.5 billion, although still down from 2.1 billion shekels in 2014. Israel’s largest telecoms group, Bezeq, did not explain why it revised its earnings outlook, making it higher, but it comes in sharp contrast to the cellphone companies Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications, which have been suffering falling profits and even losses. For the first half of the year, Bezeq posted net profit of 945 million shekels, down from 1.27 billion the same time in 2014, with most of the decline coming from its mobile unit Pelephone, which like Cellcom and Partner has been hurt by fierce competition in the sector. But Bezeq’s core landline business has apparently been thriving despite the introduction of broadband Internet reforms this year that made it easier for subscribers to switch providers.  Shares of Bezeq, which will report third-quarter results on Thursday, fell 0 just 0.5% in a down market to 8.06 shekels. (Amitai Ziv)

Delek buys rights to sell Karish, Tanin gas fields

Delek Drilling and Avner said on Sunday they had agreed to buy right to sell partner Noble Energy’s 47% stake in the tiny Karish and Tanin gas fields for $67.1 million. The two companies, which are controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group, will only act on the agreement if the so-called gas framework goes into force. The framework, whose approval has been delayed by disagreements over its terms, calls among other things for the Delek-Noble partnership to sell the two fields in exchange for letting them control the much larger Tamar and Leviathan reserves. Tanin, which lies 120 kilometers off the Haifa coast, has about 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and Karish, which lies to its west, has about 1.3 TCF of proven reserves. The agreement allows Delek to earn any profits from selling the two fields above and beyond what it pays Noble. Delek Drilling ended down 3.2% to 12.47 shekels and Avner dropped 3.1% to 2.40. (Avi Bar-Eli and Eran Azran)

Williger brothers to leave top jobs at Willi-Food

Zwi and Joseph Williger agreed over the weekend to leave their jobs at Willi-Food a year-and-a-half ago after they sold the company. But they will be getting a 10.7 million-shekel ($2.75 million) payment as a departing gift and stay on as co-chairman and president, respectively, till January. The brothers sold a controlling stake in the company, whose products include canned goods, frozen food products and cheeses, in May 2014 to Ukrainian tycoon Alexander Granovsky’s BGI group, who then sold BGI in July this year to fellow Ukrainian Grigory Gurtovoy. But the Willigers got on poorly with both controlling shareholders and the company’s share price sank, cutting its market capitalization by more than half to 131 million shekels as of Sunday. In addition, Gil Hochboim stepped down as CEO and chief financial officer effective immediately and will be replaced by Iram Graiver, who is now business development manager for Ness TSG, a defense contractor. Willi-Food ended down 1.4% at 9.71 shekels. (Eran Azrfan)