Noblesse Oblige

What jitters? Investors are storming corporate bonds

Are world markets jittery since the Chinese meltdown a month ago? Are investors more nervous they'd been before? Sure they are. But last week Israel's tycoons tapped the markets for more than NIS 3.5 billion.

"Our forces had a good day," quipped an underwriter last week, with good cause.

The week began with Lev Leviev's Africa Israel (TASE: AFIL)  raising a billion shekels through bonds.

Then Kanit, a real estate company belonging to David Azrieli, raised NIS 750 million, and Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) tapped the markets for NIS 400 million.

Finally, energy and real estate baron Yitzhak Tshuva raised NIS 600 million for The Israel Phoenix Assurance Company (TASE: PHOE)  - oops, forgot to mention he's become an insurance magnate as well.

And, Nochi Dankner raised NIS 520 million for real estate company Bayside Land Corporation (TASE: BYSD1) (known as Gav-Yam). And Chaim Katzman scored NIS 150 million for Gazit Inc.

The market is hungry

Why are the offerings oversubscribed? Why is the market soaking up all these corporate bonds so avidly? One reason is that tax revenues have been exceeding expectations and that therefore, the government has been scaling back its bond offerings. Another is that corporate paper is all the rage.

How thirsty is it, anyway? Well, Leviev had planned to raise a third of the final sum but the demand persuaded him to raise his sights. Azrieli had thought of raising NIS 600 million and Tshuva wanted only NIS 400 million.

Dankner had wanted to raise NIS 150 million, not NIS 520 million. Noblesse oblige?

So in short the four business leaders had meant to raise a combined by 1.45 billion, and they raised double that - NIS 2.835 billion.

Have they ridden the last wave? They have not. English real estate baron Louis Noe means to raise NIS 700 million in Tel Aviv for his company British Investments firm (also known as British Israel). He reportedly means to sell shares and bonds too, at a company value of NIS 1.4 billion. Noe bought the Israel-registered company, formerly known as Azorim Properties, from Nochi Dankner three years ago, for NIS 400 million.

Noe's local company engages mainly in shopping centers. since he bought it, British Investments (which is evidently not that) has bought chunks of, or whole, shopping centers in Nes Ziona, Petah Tikva, Rehovot, Haifa, Rishon Lezion,  Maale Edumim, and Nahariya.

Meanwhile,David Azrieli is also preparing to float his rival company Kanit.

Matthew Bronfman and Yakov Shulam Fisher, who made headlines last week for buying 20% of Super-Sol (TASE: SAE)  from Nochi Dankner, is preparing to issue NIS 180 million worth of bonds through Isralom, which they bought in February and which they mean to turn into their real estate investments arm.

Nor is rival real estate baron Moti Zisser sitting idle. The religious businessman means to tap the markets for NIS 620 million through his company Elbit Medical Imaging (Nasdaq: EMITF) , which as you could tell from its name, invests in real estate. And Avraham Nankashvili and Jacky Ben-Zaken, who just bought the Arena mall in Herzliya from Zisser, have plans of their own to tap the marketplace for NIS 400 million.