Business in Brief: Israeli Equity Crowdsourcing Platform Starts Cannabis Tech Fund

Hapoalim official: Israel faces no credit crisis ■ UroGen plans $150 million share sale in U.S. ■ Teva leads Tel Aviv shares higher

FILE PHOTO: An employee sorts freshly harvested cannabis buds at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel March 21, 2017.
REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo

Israeli equity crowdsourcing platform starts cannabis tech fund

The Israeli equity crowdsourcing platform OurCrowd is partnering and investing with 7thirty to build a global cannabis technology venture capital fund, the companies said on Wednesday. The new $30 million fund will be based in Boulder, Colorado, and will focus on emerging cannabis technology companies in med-tech, ag-tech, retail, e-commerce and marketplaces. The fund will be active globally, including in Israel, Canada and the United States. The 7thirty Opportunity Fund is led by Micah Tapman, a U.S early-stage cannabis technology investor. “The amount of serious medical research in cannabis is booming. This market will generate unprecedented global investment activity and returns for cannabis focused startups,” OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said. Israeli companies - benefiting from a favorable climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies - are among the world’s biggest producers of medical cannabis. (Reuters)

Hapoalim official: Israel faces no credit crisis

Israel’s business sector is not facing the same debt problems worrying financial markets in the United States and China, Tzahi Cohen, deputy CEO of Bank Hapoalim, told the CFO conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. “Everyone is concerned about the credit bubble in China, about low-rated debt in the U.S. and about government debt in many countries around the world. Israel is this respect is different: Leveraging in the business sector is at a reasonable level,” he said. Cohen credited this to Israel’s strong economic growth in recent years and the government’s policy of reducing business concentration. Israel also enjoys high rates of savings compared to other countries, ensuring a ready of availability of capital. He lauded Israel’s growth rate, noting that the per capita GDP of France was 60% more than Israel’s a decade ago and that now the two countries are about equal at $40,000. (Asa Sasson and Gili Melnitcki)

UroGen plans $150 million share sale in U.S.

Shares of UroGen Pharma, a clinical-stage company developing treatments in urology, plunged on Wednesday after it said it planned to offer $150 million of shares. The public offering could grow by as much as another 15% if underwriters want to purchase additional shares, which would yield it $162 million after fees and other costs, UrgoGen said. The announcement comes just two weeks after the company reported that Phase III clinical trials of its UGN-101 for the treatment of low-grade upper tract urothelial cancer had shown positive results. The company has already begun the process of seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug, which enables the treatment of tumors by non-surgical means. The offering is subject to market and other conditions and terms may be changed, the company added. UroGen shares were down 14.85% at $48.65 mid-afternoon local time in New York. (Yoram Gabson)

Teva leads Tel Aviv shares higher

Tel Aviv shares ended higher in very light trading as Teva Pharmaceuticals rose sharply on a positive UBS report. The benchmark TA-35 index closed up 0.6% at 1,521.79 points, while the TA-125 gained 0.4% to 1,375.70, on turnover of just 954 million shekels ($259 million). Teva led TA-125 shares higher and was the most active share of the day, rising 3.6% to 71.75 after UBS analyst Navin Jacob upgraded the stock to a Buy with a $24 target price. He said the stock is “too cheap to ignore.” Other gainers were B Communications, which rose 2.4% to 17.80 after a share offering earlier this week, and Bank Hapoalim, which advanced 1.4% to 24.11. Internet Gold, B Com’s parent, plunged 19.4% to 2.40 and its bond dropped 4%. Equitel said it planned to issue 525 million shekels in bonds and received an AA-minus rating on them. All Year bonds extended their losses, sliding 3%. (Eran Azran)