Business in Brief: Partner CEO Scores Regulators, Urges Breakup of Bezeq

Check Point bests forecasts for third-quarter results; Profits at Discount New York plunged in the third quarter; Teva trades heavily as ETFs bail out of drug maker’s Tel Aviv shares.

Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Bloomberg

Partner CEO scores regulators, urges breakup of Bezeq

Partner Communications CEO Isaac Benbenisti called for his bigger rival, Bezeq, to be broken up into two companies — one that would provide services and a second that would operate basic telecommunications infrastructure. In a rare attack of regulators by a leading telecoms executive, he accused the Communications Ministry of adopting a faulty policy of easing Bezeq’s monopoly restrictions in exchange for the company’s investing more. “Show me another area of the economy where someone would come up with an idea like that? In food? Banking? Everywhere else the key word is competition,” Benbenisti told a conference sponsored by the financial daily Calcalist. “There’s no other company like Bezeq that has such a dramatic hold on an entire market and instead of facing limits enjoys easier and easier rules.”  Citing the “cold shoulder” he received for a plan for developing a fiber optic network, Benbenisti said companies like Partner aren’t investing in infrastructure because regulatory policies “lack any logic."  (Amitai Ziv)

Check Point bests forecasts for third-quarter results

Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies reported quarterly profit that beat expectations as customers increasingly focus on preventing cyberattacks. Check Point earned $1.13 per diluted share excluding one-time items in the third quarter, up from $1.04 a year earlier. Revenue grew 6% to $428 million, the Tel Aviv-based company said on Monday. It was forecast to earn $1.08 a share on revenue of $423 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. “Customers continue to leverage the Check Point security platform and increase their adoption of our advanced security capabilities, which is resulting in higher subscription revenues,” said CEO Gil Shwed. “Cyber attacks are continuing to increase and the level of sophistication keeps rising.” Check Point shares were up 2.6% to $83.62 early afternoon local time in New York. “Overall, Check Point delivered a solid third quarter in a thus far mixed reporting environment, which we view favorably,” Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal said. (Reuters)

Profits at Discount New York plunged in the third quarter

Profits at Israel Discount Bank’s New York unit – the biggest Israeli-owned lender in the United States  – plunged 24% in the third quarter to $11.7 million after making provisions of several million dollars against its commercial loan portfolio. That reduced its return on equity to 5.4% in annualized terms from 7.7% a year ago. However, for the first nine months of the year, Israel Discount Bank of New York, also known as IDB Bank, reported net of $42.4 million, almost unchanged from the same time in 2015, although ROE dropped to 6.4% from 7.1%. The relatively low ROE is due to the high level of equity that bank has, which reached $879 million at the end of September. For tax reasons, the New York unit doesn’t pay dividends to its Israeli parent. Nevertheless, CEO Lilach Asher-Topilsky is determined to step up the bank’s U.S. operations, which account for more than 20% of the parent bank’s net earnings. Discount shares rose 0.7% to 7.05 shekels in Tel Aviv. (Michael Rochvarger)

Teva trades heavily as ETFs bail out of drug maker’s Tel Aviv shares

Teva Pharmaceuticals dominated an otherwise quiet day of trading in Tel Aviv on Monday as index investors dumped the stock in favor of its New York-listed American depository receipts. Teva shares fell only 0.7% by closing to 160.70 shekels ($41.85), but turnover in the stock ballooned to 1.79 billion shekels, nearly 60% of the day’s total. Exchanged-traded funds bailed out of Teva Tel Aviv after an adjustment of the MSCI index forced them to stock up on Teva. The blue chip TA-25 index ended down 0.07% for the day at 1,405.52 points after losing ground towards the end of the session, while the TA-100 fell 0.2% to 1,231.09, on turnover of 3.125 billion shekels. Bank stocks gained, led by a 2.3% advance for Bank Hapoalim to 22.14. Spacecom rose 1.5% to 29.99 after it said the deadline for completing negotiations with its Chinese buyer Xinwei group had been extended to November 15. (Uri Tomer)