Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares Finish Broadly Higher

Hauser to head Securities Authority for three more years; Nehama group backs out of agreement to buy control of JEC; Bondholders agree not to block Alon Blue Square sale.

Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
Bloomberg

Hauser to head Securities Authority for three more years

Prof. Shmuel Hauser will serve another three years as chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, in order to give him more time to assemble a plan to lure more investors to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Monday. Hauser’s five-year term had been due to end in May. “Today we are starting the process of strengthening the bourse and restoring it to its place as the engine of the Israeli economy,” Kahlon said in a statement. The exchange, which has seen volumes dwindle since 2010, is in the process of being demutualized and turned into a for-profit entity – changes designed to make it more competitive and enable it to lower trading commissions. It will also move its trading week from Sunday-Thursday to Monday-Friday, to align it with much of the rest of the world. The TASE’s equity trading volume improved in 2015 to 1.4 billion shekels ($358 million) a day, up from 1.2 billion shekels in 2014. However, this was still below 2010’s 2-billion-shekel average. (Reuters)

Nehama group backs out of agreement to buy control of JEC

An investor group led by former Bank Hapoalim chairman Shlomo Nehama backed out at the last minute from buying Eliezer Fishman’s 28% controlling stake in Jerusalem Economy Corporation Monday. It was the second time a buyer has pulled out of a deal to buy the beleaguered property company, following the Nakash Brothers’ withdrawal last year, leaving Bank Leumi still holding the stake as collateral against 2 billion shekels ($512 million) in bad loans to Fishman. As a result, JEC’s board was due to meet last night to weigh a plan by CEO David Zvida to issue hundreds of millions of shekels in stock to raise badly needed capital and divest assets. Leumi is not expected to buy into the offering, which will mean the share it holds as collateral will be cut to a 20% stake, or even less. In that case, at JEC’s current valuation, it’s worth just 100 million shekels and the bank will likely sell it as a financial stake. JEC shares sank 8.8%, to close at 4.70 shekels (Michael Rochvarger)

Bondholders agree not to block Alon Blue Square sale

Alon Israel bondholders agreed with Bank Hapoalim Monday that they would not block the company’s sale of Alon Blue Square to Moti Ben-Moshe. Sources said the sides failed to reach a compromise on how to divvy up the 115 million shekels ($29.4 million) Alon Israel will get from the sale. However, they did agree to take another 30 days to try and reach an understanding and then hand over the dispute to an arbitrator. If that then fails, they will go to litigation. Alon Israel bondholders won veto power over any sale of Alon Blue Square after agreeing not to seek immediate repayment of 1.75 billion shekels in debt owed to them, but Hapoalim – which holds nearly all the Alon Blue Square stake as collateral – had sought to have the proceeds used to pay down the loan another Alon Israel unit took from it. Alon Blue Square shares finished down 0.1% at 1.42 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv shares finish broadly higher

Tel Aviv shares ended higher Monday in broad-based gains. The benchmark TA-25 index finished up 1% at 1,436.32 points, while the TA-100 advanced 0.9% to 1,236.03, as 1.22 billion shekels ($312 million) changed hands. The one big exception to the gains was Perrigo, which marked a third straight session of big losses following disappointing fourth-quarter earnings. It was the most actively traded stock of the day and finished down 4.35% at 483.30 shekels. But other pharmaceuticals performed strongly – Teva Pharmaceuticals rose 1.4% to 224.90 shekels and Opko Health added 3.2% to 36.17. Bank stocks also rallied, with Leumi ending up 1.8% at 13.10 shekels and Hapoalim ahead 2.2% at 18.88. Allot Communications rose 5.3% to end at 18.37 shekels. In the fixed-income markets, the government’s 10-year Shahar bond declined 0.29% to raise its yield to 1.83%. (Ruti Levy)