Business in Brief: SEC Forces EZTD to Pay $1.7 Million Over Internet Binary Trading Operations

Move by Westport Capital Partners sends Africa-Israel Investments stocks soaring; Gazit-Globe buys stake in mall in Brazil; MannKind shares 60% higher in 4 days; TASE shares up led by bank stocks.

Illustration: Binary options.

Move by Westport Capital Partners sends Africa-Israel Investments stocks soaring

Bond trustees for Africa-Israel Investments have convened a bondholders’ meeting for tomorrow, to consider a request by U.S.-based real estate investment firm Westport Capital Partners for exclusivity rights for a period to consider purchasing Africa-Israel Investments. Africa-Israel shares soared on the news Sunday, closing at 12.4 agorot (3 cents), up 7.2%. The nonbinding offer would have the company purchase all of Africa-Israel’s shares, along with a settlement with creditors. The bond trustees did not disclose the details of the offer. Established in 2005, Westport Capital specializes in investment in problem assets, with the aim of creating returns commensurate with the risk. Africa-Israel Investments owes bondholders 2.7 billion shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)

SEC forces EZTD to pay $1.7 million over its internet binary trading operations

EZTD, an Israel-based binary trading firm, is being forced to pay $1.7 million for misleading investors into trading in binary trading options over the internet, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday. The SEC found that fewer than 3% of the 4,000 or so American investors who opened binary trading accounts with EZTD actually made money on their investments. EZTD, which is based in Tel Aviv, did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to forfeit $1.5 million in revenues from its U.S. clients and to pay a $200,000 penalty. Binary options provide investors with an all-or-nothing chance of profiting on their investment. “Companies dealing in binary options must disclose more than general statements about investment risk, so investors in these instruments understand that the odds are stacked against them,” said Stephanie Avakian, deputy director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. (TheMarker)

Gazit-Globe buys stake in mall in Brazil

Gazit-Globe is looking to acquire more shopping malls in Brazil, the chief of the Israeli company’s unit in the country said on Friday, a day after it announced the purchase of 33% of an upscale mall in Sao Paolo for $121 million. Mia Stark, chief executive of Gazit’s Brazilian unit, said in an interview that the acquisition of the stake in Shopping Cidade Jardim from Brazil’s JHSF Participacoes SA, was the largest investment in the country so far. Gazit may collaborate in new projects with JHSF and plans to concentrate its assets in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, Stark said. Andres Andrade, a director at Gazit Brasil, said in an interview that Gazit could also sell controlling stakes in shopping malls outside the city. (Reuters)

MannKind shares 60% higher in 4 days

Shares of dual-traded biotechnology firm MannKind have shot up by about 60% over a four-day period on the Tel Aviv and Nasdaq exchanges, closing up another 2% in Tel Aviv Sunday at 2.43 shekels (63 cents), following the release of the company’s third-quarter financial statement and an announcement regarding two new business developments. For the first time, the company has reported generating revenue, $162 million, as well as profits – $127 million. Nearly all of the revenue, however, is the result of a collaboration with French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi. The amount of the profit is also seen as a one-time event, with future profits at that level or higher dependent upon income from its Afrezza insulin product. The second development was the agreement of its insulin supplier to reduce MannKind’s obligation to it by $65 million. (Uri Tomer)

TASE shares up led by bank stocks

Shares on the Tel Aviv exchange were generally higher Sunday, boosted by banking stocks. The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 index rose 0.52% to 1,432.36 points, while the Tel Aviv-100 index was up 0.4% to 1,247.76. The Banks-5 index was 2.56% higher, closing at 1,536 and led by Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim. Among other shares of note, SodaStream gained 6.3% to 131.20 shekels on its latest earnings, while Amos Luzon Development and Energy surged 17.5% to 61.2 agorot.  (Shelly Appelberg)