Greek Energy Firm Secures $1.25b to Develop Two Israeli Natural Gas Fields

Business in Brief: Mizrahi Tefahot boosts net 38%, slates dividend increase ■ Pointer fourth-quarter net soars thanks to Trump tax cuts ■ Energy shares advance in otherwise quiet trading session

File photo: Tamar Israeli gas-drill platform in the Mediterranean Sea.
AHIKAM SERI/AFP

Mizrahi Tefahot boosts net 38%, slates dividend increase

Mizrahi Tefahot, Israel’s third-largest bank, reported Tuesday a 38% jump in quarterly net profit and said it would raise its dividend payment. Mizrahi earned 365 million shekels ($104.8 million) in the fourth quarter, up from 265 million a year earlier. Financing income before expenses for credit losses rose to 1.19 billion shekels from 1.07 billion, while the credit loss provision slipped to 60 million shekels from 81 million. For the quarter, the bank will distribute a dividend of 110 million shekels, equal to 30% of net profit. Starting in the current quarter, Mizrahi said it would pay a 40% dividend. The bank’s Tier I capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 10.2% at the end of 2017 from 10.1% at the end of 2016. Shares of Mizrahi, which in November said it had agreed to buy smaller rival Union Bank of Israel for around 1.4 billion shekels, ended 0.6% higher at 64.50 shekels. (Reuters)

Energean secures $1.25 billion to develop Karish and Tanin gas fields

The Greek energy firm Energean has secured $1.25 billion in funding for the development of two natural gas fields offshore Israel, the company’s CEO said Tuesday. The company signed commitment letters with Morgan Stanley, French investment bank Natixis and Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, CEO Mathios Rigas told an energy conference in Tel Aviv, according to an official transcript. It’s unusual for institutions to lend money for an energy project, but Energean has lined up anchor customers for its gas, so the risk is relatively low. The company estimates it will cost $1.6 billion to put the two fields into production. Energean hopes to begin production at the Karish and Tanin fields, which contain an estimated 2.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, in 2021. The company is also planning to raise $500 million in an initial public offering in London and may dual-list its shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. (Reuters)

Pointer fourth-quarter net soars thanks to Trump tax cuts

Pointer Telocation, an Israeli company that provide vehicle-location technology and related services, said Tuesday that its net profit soared to $11.1 million in last year’s fourth quarter from just $500,000 in 2016, and it can thank U.S. President Donald Trump for that. Pointer attributed the increase to the one-time realization of a deferred tax asset of $9.2 million following the tax reforms approved by the U.S. Congress last year that included cutting the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. Even without the Trump bump, Pointer had a good quarter: Revenue climbed 8.4% year on year to $19 million while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 40% to $3.1 million. The company has been snapping up businesses in Brazil and South Africa and last year won a contract to manage 4,000 cars used by Uber drivers and Lyft in New York. Nevertheless, Pointer shares ended down 8% at 57.77 shekels ($16.61). (Yoram Gabison)

Energy shares advance in otherwise quiet trading session

Tel Aviv shares marked a second day of quiet trading Tuesday even as energy shares posted strong gains. The TA-35 and TA-125 indexes both advanced about 0.15% to close at 1,511.06 and 1,371.20 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.31 billion shekels ($380 million). Energy shares were up across the board, with Ratio ending 5.5% higher at 2.36 shekels and Delek Drilling advancing 3.2% to 10.74. Gilat rose 3.6% to close at 31 and Migdal Insurance rose 1.75% to 3.90 after it named Prof. Oded Sarig chairman, subject to approvals. On the losing side, Perrigo sunk 3.6% to 294.30 after the drugmaker said it was rescheduling fourth-quarter 2017 earning results because it needs more time to complete its year-end tax review procedures. El Al Airlines ended down 2.9% to 1.25 after it said its quarterly results would be reduced by $13.2 million due to a tax assessment for the years 2011-13. TowerJazz ended 1.2% lower at 109.80, its fourth straight session of declines. (Guy Erez)