Market Report / Ministry Eases Constraints at Bezeq, Stock Leaps 7.5%

Tel Aviv investors had a merry day yesterday as indexes rallied decisively, if selectively, on decent turnover of NIS 1.2 billion.

True, last year that would have been considered a pitiful sum, but this year it's on the heavy side. The starring industry was telecommunications after the Communications Ministry discussed reforms that sent the sector index climbing 6.5%. Bezeq jumped 7.5%.

The benchmark TA-25 index gained 1.3% to end at 1,146 points and the broader TA-100 index rose 1.2% to 1,052 points. The only other sector index worthy of note was Biomed, which gained 2.4%.

As for telecom stocks, B Communications, through which businessman Shaul Elovitch owns Bezeq, jumped 26.8% on heavy NIS 10.2 million turnover. Bezeq gained 7.5% on gargantuan turnover of NIS 347 million and Internet Gold powered ahead by 15.3% on a volume of NIS 7.2 million.

Those are very large turnovers for those shares. The impetus was that the Communications Ministry strongly indicated that it will abolish the requirement that Bezeq keep certain units completely separate.

Until now, because of its market clout, the ministry had forced Bezeq to keep certain units completely separate, from management to marketing. This stung profits. Bezeq has been arguing that its market position has been weakening as competition grows; apparently ears at the ministry were heedful.

Partner Communications, a mobile operator, gained 3% on reports that four different business groups are interested in buying it from controlling shareholder Ilan Ben-Dov. The four all signed confidentiality agreements and received access to secret information about the firm. Its parent Scailex gained 1.6%.

Elsewhere, biomed company Brainsway's stock gained 22% after reporting that a five-week trial on 233 deeply depressed patients showed marked improvement from use of its brain-stimulation device.

Shares of biopharmaceuticals company Redhill jumped more than 30% after announcing success in an advanced clinical trial of its drug RHB-102 to treat nausea in cancer patients.