Israel Chemical Slates Big Move Into Precision Agriculture

Business in Brief: Jacob Richter leading shareholder group selling Orbotech holdings ■ Teva prices enlarged $4.5b issue of senior notes ■ Tel Aviv shares end little changed; Leumi now top bank by market cap

The potash fertilizer manufacturing plant stands at ICL Fertilizer's Dead Sea Works, part of Israel Chemicals Group, on the Dead Sea, May 6, 2013.
Bloomberg

Jacob Richter leading shareholder group selling Orbotech holdings

Jacob Richter is leading a group of shareholders seeking to sell their stakes in Orbotech, the Israeli maker of automated optical inspection systems for use in the manufacture of printed circuit boards and flat panel displays, TheMarker has learned. Richter, 74, controls a 5.4% stake in the company, now worth about $144 million after the shares have risen some 44% over the last five years. The group also comprises his brother Yochai, 72, who is Orbotech’s active chairman and has a 2.1% stake, as well as the U.S. hedge fund Renaissance Technologies has another 5.4%, Clal Insurance 5% and a group of Orbotech executives a combined 8.7%. Orbotech executives are reportedly in the United States right now to move forward the sale, whose terms have not been divulged. The company and Richter both declined to comment on the report. Shares of Orbotech were up 5.35% at $59.30 local time in New York Thursday. (Yoram Gabison)

Israel Chemical slates big move into precision agriculture

Israel Chemicals on Thursday unveiled a new strategy that calls for developing new products and technology in the emerging field of precision agriculture while improving the competitiveness of its core potash, phosphates and bromine business. As part of the drive it will acquire and/or collaborate with Israeli and foreign startups, ICL said. The company is targeting a reduction in potash production costs of 10-15%  over five years with production at five million tons annually  It is also targeting over $1 billion in sales of advanced crop nutrition over the next five years. ICL shares ended up 1.5% at 15.78 shekels ($4.56). (Yoram Gabison)

Teva prices enlarged $4.5 billion issue of senior notes

Teva Pharmaceuticals said on Thursday it had priced a $4.5 billion offering of senior notes, $1 billion more than had been originally planned. The proceeds will be used to repay $2.3 billion of dollar- and yen-denominated loans and help to redeem $2.7 billion of senior notes due in 2018 and 2019. Retiring the debt will free Teva from the obligation it took on with creditors to keep the ratio of net debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at 5:9 through the end of this year. “Having taken care of our financing requirements for the coming years, Teva will now focus on execution of our restructuring plan,” said Chief Financial Officer Mike McClellan. The new debt consists of $2.5 billion in dollar senior notes split evenly between 6% notes due in 2024 and 6.75% notes due in 2028. Another 700 million euros carry a coupon of 3.25% and a further 900 million euros of 4.5%, all due in 2025. (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv shares end little changed; Leumi now top bank by market cap

Tel Aviv shares bumped along the plus/minus line all day Thursday to end barely changed. The benchmark TA-35 index finished the day up 0.1% to 1,481.35 points, while the TA-125 edged out an 0.04% gain to 1,342.69, on light turnover of 1.07 billion shekels ($310 million). The only sector to show a gain was finance, where Bank Leumi edged out Bank Hapoalim during the day for the first time in memory to be Israel’s largest bank by market capitalization. Leumi’s 0.4% rise to 21.33 shekels valued it at 32.51 billion shekels while Hapoalim ended down 0.5% at 24.34 and a market cap of 32.45 billion. Rami Levy closed 1.35% higher at 202.70 after the Antitrust Authority on Thursday cleared its buying a stake in the Cofix café chain and control of its Super Cofix grocery business. Cofix rose 3.6% to 8.25. B Communications was the top loser on the TA-125, falling 4% to 54.11.(Guy Erez)