Strike Launched at Key Israel Chemicals Unit

UBS retained to handle sale of desalination company IDE; Pluristem shares rallied on mysterious report, Bloomberg reports; Tel Aviv shares end mixed; dollar gains.

The Dead Sea Works potash fertilizer manufacturing plant belongs to Israel Chemicals.
Bloomberg

Strike launched at key Israel Chemicals unit

Workers at Israel Chemicals’ Bromine Compounds plant in Neot Hovav launched a strike on Monday, shutting the plant and the company’s Be’er Sheva headquarters, after ICL began laying off employees. The move came after management issued notices inviting 140 staff for pre-layoff hearings after talks to negotiate a downsizing at Bromine reached a deadline. “The strike will continue until ICL management agrees to rescind the hearing notices. If that doesn’t happen, workers at the other ICL plants in the Negev will join the strike,” said Avner Ben-Senior, head of the Bromine workers’ committee. He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene. ICL halted the layoffs in November to try and reach an accord, but insists that the Bromine facility right now is inefficient and uncompetitive, and faces difficult market conditions as well as demands for higher taxes and royalties from the Israeli government. ICL shares closed down 0.9% at 28.47 shekels ($7.23). (Haim Bior)

UBS retained to handle sale of desalination company IDE

Israel Chemicals and Delek Group have retained the Swiss bank UBS top arrange the sale of the joint venture desalination company IDE. ICL and Delek are hoping to get between $700 million and $1 billion for the company. A price in that range would generate a handsome return for Delek, which acquired its 50% stake in IDE in 2002 for just $20 million. Both ICL and Delek are in the process of paring back their business to core holding, which is why they announced in November that they wanted to divest IDE. In Delek’s case, controlling shareholder Yitzhak Tshuva wants to focus of Delek’s natural gas holdings while ICL is seeking to concentrate on its core chemicals business. IDE would also benefit from the sale, if it is sold to a foreign company, as it seeks to win sales in the Middle East, a major market for desalination technology largely closed off to Israel. (Yoram Gabison)

Pluristem shares rallied on mysterious report, Bloomberg reports

The sudden jump in the share price for the Israeli biotech company Pluristem last week was due to a positive rating and ambitious target price set by a research company that had no business history or identified the analysts who conducted the research, Bloomberg News said in a report on Monday. Acceleron Equity Research issued a report January 26 valuing Pluristem shares at $21, eight times what they were trading at in New York before the report sparked a 39% jump in the price. Acceleron’s site, which was only registered July 16, offered no information on anyone involved in the firm or the research, nor did anyone respond to phone calls or emails from Bloomberg seeking more information. Pluristem told Bloomberg that it had no contact with Acceleron. On Monday, Pluristem shares closed 1.2% lower at 12.50 shekels ($3.17), marking a 10.7% drop since last week’s rally. (TheMarker)

Tel Aviv shares end mixed; dollar gains

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed on Monday as Bezeq and real-estate companies rose smartly while banks and holding companies were lower. The benchmark TA-25 index ended unchanged at 1,446.41 points while the TA-100 scraped together an 0.1% gain to finish at 1,268.88. Turnover was 1.2 billion shekels ($300 million). Bezeq led the most actives and rose 3.4% to finish the day at 3.44 shekels. Propert shares led gainers in the TA-100 amid reports that a big institutional investor had taken stakes in the sector. REIT 1 rose 4.9% to a finish of 10.51 shekels, Property & Building Limited added 4.5% to 210.50, and Airport City climbed 4.3% to 34.45. But holding companies were down sharply – IDB Development Corporation by 3.9% to 1.28, Kenon Holdings by 2.5% to 64.44 and Discount Investment Corporation by 2.9% to 6.05. Camtek advanced 7.4% to 12.99 shekels after it reported that it received its first order for a Gryphon system. In foreign currency trading, the dollar reversed losses and rose 0.3% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.9370 shekels. (Eran Azran)