Business in Brief: We're in Talks With Egypt on Underseas Gas Pipeline, Israeli Energy Minister Says

B-Communications seeking new capital to avoid debt bailout ■ Itamar Medical places shares on way to Wall Street listing ■ Tel Aviv shares end mixed

Offshore drilling at Leviathan
Albatross

B-Communications seeking new capital to avoid debt bailout

B-Communications, the parent company of Bezeq, said on Thursday it would ask shareholders to approve 160 million shekels ($43.3 million) in fresh debt capital in order to make payments on existing debt and avoid having to negotiate a bailout. The company owes bondholders 1.9 billion shekels, of which 233 million is due Series Bet holders at the end of March, but has only 600 million shekels in cash. The company doesn’t expect Bezeq to resume paying dividends that would enable it to repay bondholders any time before the end of 2019 and perhaps as late as end 2020. Meanwhile, Internet Gold, B-Com’s parent, said it would suspend payments on its bond debt to avoid a situation where one class of bondholders gets preference over another. B-Com shares ended up 7.3% at 20.18 shekels.  Internet Gold fell 4.4% to 3.07 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg and Michael Rochvarger)

Itamar Medical places shares on way to Wall Street listing

Itamar Medical, an Israeli maker of noninvasive diagnostic tools, is on its way to a Wall Street listing. The company said Thursday it had raised $11.5 million in a private placement, $8 million of which was sold in the form of American depository receipts to a group of U.S. institutional investors, including Deerfield management and West Elk Partners.  The ADRs were sold at 1.1693 shekels (32 cents) each, a discount of 14.9% on Itamar’s opening price on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. However, the company said, the ADRs won’t be registered for trading until the U.S. government shutdown ends. Itamar said it would use the proceeds to accelerate growth, especially for its WatchPAT home appliance for respiratory sleep disorder diagnosis. A U.S. listing, it added, should also enhance the value of its stock. Itamar shares ended down 1% at 1.36 shekels on the TASE. (Guy Erez)

Steinitz: Israel, Egypt are in talks on underseas gas pipeline

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said this week that Israel and Egypt are discussing plans to lay an underseas pipeline that would connect Israel’s offshore gas field to Egypt. “There’s no final decision yet, but there are talks,” Steinitz told Bloomberg in an interview in Cairo after he met with energy ministers from Egypt, Jordan and other countries to launch a regional gas forum Monday. Steinitz said construction could begin as early as 2020 to deliver gas from Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar fields to plants in Egypt for liquefaction and re-export to Europe. The two plants currently stand idle. The pipeline would also supplement or replace the EMG pipeline now linking Israel and Egypt, whose capacity is limited to 7 billion cubic meters a year and vulnerable to terror attacks. An undersea pipeline would increase the export for potential for the two Israel fields, which are controlled by Delek Group and Noble Energy. (Ora Coren)

Tel Aviv shares end mixed

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed Thursday as property shares rallied and cellular stocks posted further losses. The benchmark TA-35 index ended up 0.1% to 1,511.14, while the TA-125 fell 0.01%, on turnover of 1.19 billion shekels ($320 million). Norstar led gains for property stocks, rising 5.3% to 42.94 shekels and leaving it with a 17.7% rise so far this year. Gazit Globe climbed 3.2% to 28.10 and Housing & Construction 3% to 6.24. But Partner Communications dropped 3.3% to 16.34 and rival mobile provider Cellcom Israel fell 2.4% to 19.30. Bezeq extended its gains, adding 2.35% to 3.40. Kitov Pharma plunged 29.6% to 5.64 after announcing it had sold $6 million in American depository shares and warrants to institutions. Gilat led TA-125 shares lower, falling 4.1% to a close of 31.87. (Jenya Volinsky and Shelly Appelberg)