Daily Roundup / BIG Buys Large Pittsburgh Mall

Len Blavatnik given chance to defend cement monopoly he just bought; Quaker firm divests because of Israel ties.

Quaker firm divests because of Israel ties: A firm that manages assets for U.S. Quakers has sold its holdings in three companies after investors raised concerns about their dealings with Israel. Friends Fiduciary Corp., a Philadelphia nonprofit, sold its shares in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Veolia Environment after a review was requested by the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. The Michigan Quaker group wanted to avoid investments in companies that provided products to the Israeli military. Jeffery Perkins, the Friends Fiduciary executive director, said the nonprofit does not comment on its investment decisions. However, he confirmed the contents of a letter he wrote to Ann Arbor Friends last month stating the fund could not determine whether the products Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard sold to Israel would be considered "weapons components." "In the absence of that information, we chose to sell our holdings based on the peace testimony," Perkins wrote, citing the core Quaker teaching against the use of weapons. Perkins did not release a dollar value for its investments in the three companies. (Associated Press)

BIG USA buys Pittsburgh mall: BIG Shopping Centers' U.S. arm has bought 80% of the Waterfront Mall in Pittsburgh, the company said this week. The remaining rights to the mall, which is the second-biggest in Pennsylvania, was acquired by M&J Wilkow, which manages 15 malls and 12 office buildings in the U.S. Tel Aviv-listed BIG and Wilkow will be co-managing their new mall, which they bought from the U.S. insurance company TIAA for $112 million.

Pelephone workers escalate labor actions: In the middle of the Sukkoth holiday, protesting Pelephone workers held a demonstration outside the home of Shaul Elovitch, who owns the Bezeq phone company, which owns the mobile operator. The workers came armed with protest signs and family members and proceeded to build a sukkah in Elovitch's parking space, but the police told them to tear it down. The workers obeyed and settled for protesting. The workers are protesting management's alleged interference with their efforts to organize under the Histadrut umbrella labor federation.

Blavatnik given chance to expound on Israel's cement monopoly: The committee considering how to make Israel's cement industry competitive, rather than have one player, has agreed to postpone filing its final report. Why? Because billionaire businessman Len Blavatnik just bought Clal Industries, which owns the Nesher cement monopoly. The committee will give Blavatnik until the end of October to present his opinion on competition in Israel's cement sector before handing down its report. Nesher controls 85% to 90% of the Israeli cement market.

Celeno raises $24 million: Israeli start-up Celeno Communications, which develops chips for multimedia applications on home Wi-Fi networks, raised $24 million in its fifth financing round, the company said last week. That brings Celeno's take from backers to $68 million. Existing investors Greylock Partners, Liberty Global, Cisco Systems and Pitango Venture Capital contributed financing, and Alan Feld's fund, Vintage Ventures, joined as a new investor. Celeno will use the proceeds to continue expanding its 802.11ac development program, its new standard for home Wi-Fi networks. The company's customers include China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Liberty Global, UPC and Bouygues Telecom.

Strauss to pay NIS 140m dividend: Food company Strauss Group will be paying a NIS 140 million dividend on November 28. The ex-dividend date is November 14. After the payout, Strauss will have NIS 1.2 billion in retained profits eligible for distribution as further dividends. Strauss, which has developed a worldwide coffee business and sells foodstuffs in Israel, Europe and the U.S., paid NIS 200 million in dividends in 2011. The company netted NIS 98 million on NIS 4 billion in revenues in the first half of 2012, compared to a NIS 38 million profit on NIS 3.6 billion in revenues for the same period of 2011.

With reporting by Haim Bior, Ora Coren, Michael Rochvarger and Maya Epstein.

Len Blavatnik.