Dollar Sinks Below 3.50 Shekels for First Time in Almost Three Years

Business in Brief | Tamar gas reserves estimate revised upwards by 10-15% ■ Court refuses for now to decide on fate of Africa Israel Investments ■ Lower Wall Street pushes Tel Aviv shares lower in final stretch

shekels
Reuters

Dollar sinks below 3.50 shekels for first time in almost three years

The dollar sank below 3.50 shekels for the first time in nearly three years, prompting currency dealers to say the Bank of Israel should intervene. The greenback lost 0.9% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.49 shekels and was trading at 3.4869 late in the day. Roy Kadosh, investment manager at ILDC Insurance, said the dollar fell on the back of weak U.S. economic data while the central bank has done too little to stem the shekel’s appreciation. “The Bank of Israel has to regain control and create policies that will enable institutional investors and the wealthy to sell their shekels and buy dollars and stop hedging on their forex holdings,” he said. Yossi Fraiman, CEO of Prico Risk Management, said the shekel would probably stay at current levels because interest rates are rising overseas. But, he added, “The Bank of Israel and the treasury have to moderate the trend.” (Omri Zerachovitz)

Tamar gas reserves estimate revised upwards by 10-15%

Gas reserves at Tamar, Israel’s biggest field in production, are 10% to 15% higher than previous estimates, TheMarker has learned. The revised figures, which will be formally released in the next few days, raise the value of the field by as much as $2 billion. They come after geological tests were performed at the Tamar 8 drilling site over six months ending last April. Tamar’s reserves were estimated at 310 billion cubic meters of gas and 13 million barrels of condensate when it was first discovered eight years ago. The latest estimate confirms that Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves are quite extensive and may lead to higher estimates for the Leviathan field, which now stand at 620 BCM. Shares of Delek Drilling, which has a 31.25% stake in Tamar and is selling nearly a third of them to the public, ended up 1.9% at 265.80 shekels ($76.24). Isramco, which holds 28.75% of Tamar, rose 1% to 53 agorot. (Eran Azran)

Court refuses for now to decide on fate of Africa Israel Investments

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein told Africa Israel Investments’ bondholders that for now he wouldn’t decide for them which of the proposals on what to do with the indebted property company to choose, and told them to resume negotiations with the various bidders. “I have studied the petitions and it seems that there is no need right now for a decision,” Orenstein wrote. “It would be better if the parties continued talking rather than turn to the court. If an understanding is not reached, petitions will be heard on July 9.” Orenstein’s decision comes two weeks after bondholders failed to muster the minimum 75% majority needed for any of the proposals for Africa Israel, although two offers to buy the company and reschedule its debt won more votes than one to simply break it up. Africa Israel has 2.9 billion shekels ($830 million) of bonds it can’t repay. (Shelly Appleberg)

Lower Wall Street pushes Tel Aviv shares lower in final stretch

Tel Aviv shares slid into the red in the final hour of the trading session on Thursday as Wall Street opened lower. The blue chip TA-35 index ended down 0.2% at 1,433.63 points, while the TA-125 lost less than 0.1% to 1,288.88, on turnover of more than 2 billion shekels ($590 million), swelled on the expiry of the June Maof contract. Declines in the TA-125 were led by a 3.6% drop for Mannkind to 5.15 shekels and a 2.9% drop to 65.25 for Norstar. Perrigo lost 1.1% to 265.80. Internet Gold fell 2.56% to 31.09 after an analyst for Entropy warned that a more conservative policy at Bezeq in the wake of the securities probe would probably see dividend payouts fall, making it harder for Internet Gold to meet debt obligations. Bezeq dropped 0.9% to 5.80. Insurance stocks were up strongly, led by a 2.4% gain for Harel to 20.67. (Shelly Appelberg)