Business in Brief: Tel Aviv Shares Finish Higher as Dollar Weakens Against the Shekel

Delek told it must sell one desalination plant in order to bid on building another one ■ Frutarom board votes $20 million bonus for CEO over shareholders’ opposition ■ Tel Aviv shares finish higher as dollar weakens against the shekel

Woman's two hands holding a fan of money of Israeli New Shekels the new shekel series.
Getty

A week after EMG deal, Noble Energy sells stake in Tamar Petroleum

Texas-based Noble Energy sold its 43.5% stake in Israel’s Tamar Petroleum over the past week after saying it would buy part of a stake in the gas pipeline owner East Mediterranean Gas Company, sources told TheMarker Wednesday. Noble sold 40 million Tamar shares at 15.50 shekels ($4.26) each in two sales over the past week, the latest on Tuesday to Israeli institutional investors. Tamar shares closed up 3.4% at 16.59 shekels.Noble, Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Drilling and the Egyptian East Gas Company said September 27 they would buy a 39% stake in EMG for $518 million, paving the way for the pipeline to begin carrying carry natural gas from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan offshore fields starting next year. Noble’s share in the deal is $185 million. Tamar and Leviathan, which Noble and Delek control with partners, will supply 64 billion cubic meters of gas over 10 years to Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings. (Eran Azran)

Delek told it must sell one desalination plant in order to bid on building another one

The government committee to reduce concentration in business told Delek Group Wednesday that it would be barred from bidding on a contract to build and operate the planned Soreq B desalination plant unless it agrees to divest its Soreq A plant. It said Delek would be required to sell Soreq A even if it failed to win the contract, although it would be allowed to bid on future contracts. The committee said it was concerned that Delek’s IDE unit, which makes and operates desalination plants, had too big a share of the Israeli market. “If IDE were to win the tender to build Soreq B it would control three plants (out of six) but its share in the provision of desalinated water in the years ahead wouldn’t rise and would even decline (from 67% to 56%), the committee said. Soreq A produces 150 million cubic meters of fresh water annually; Soreq B’s planned capacity is 200 million. (Ora Coren

Advisory firms give shareholders contradictory advice on Leumi directors 

Foreign shareholders of Israel’s Bank Leumi got contradictory advice from U.S. advisory firms on who to support in Thursday’s shareholders’ vote to select two outside directors. Glass Lewis recommended that shareholders vote for Yoram Turbowicz, citing his experience in business and government. The firm said Turbowicz — who, if elected to the bank’s board would becomes a strong candidate to take over as Leumi chairman next year — would serve as a counterweight to the bank’s dominant CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach. But a second firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, urged shareholders to reject Turbowicz and vote for the other candidates vying for the two vacancies on the board, Ohad Marani and Shmuel Ben Zvi.  ISS said Turbowicz had not served on the board of a publicly traded company like Leumi in recent years and that his legal experience was not itself a sufficiently important factor. In any events, the vote will be largely decided by Leumi’s Israeli institutional investors. Leumi shares finished down 0.8% at 23.95 shekels ($6.60). (Michael Rochvarger)

Frutarom board votes $20 million bonus for CEO over shareholders’ opposition

The board of Frutarom, the Israeli maker of flavors and fragrances, voted to give CEO Ori Yehudai a $20 million bonus over the objections of shareholders. The vote, reported late Tuesday, comes as Frutarom is due to be acquired by the U.S. company International Flavors & Fragrances. The board conceded it had broken with compensation policies but said Yehudai’s strategy of acquisitions over the years had generated high rates of growth for Frutarom and boosted profitability. They also credited him with managing the negotiations that led to IFF’s $7.1 billion offer. “The one-time bonus awarded to Yehudai was based on his performance, impact, abilities, expertise and professional experience,” the board said, adding that “most of the shareholders who voted against approving the bonus didn’t explain why they opposed it.” Shareholders approved the IFF deal in August but voted down the bonus. Frutarom shares, in their last day of trading, ended down 0.5% at 382.30 shekels ($105.42). (Assa Sasson)

Tel Aviv shares finish higher as dollar weakens against the shekel

Tel Aviv shares finished higher Wednesday as the U.S. dollar retreated. The TA-35 and TA-125 indexes both closed up 0.5% at 1,658.53 and 1,499.49 points, respectively, as 1.65 billion shekels ($450 million) in shares changed hands. Among top blue chip gainers, Delek Group advanced 4.4% to 649.90 shekels, Migdal Insurance added 3.4% to 4.26  and Tamar Petroleum added 3.4% to 16.59. After four days of sharp losses, shares of the embattled U.S. drugmaker Opko Health turned higher Wednesday, climbing 5.1% to 12.88. LivePerson dropped 2.2% to 89.87, marking its sixth decline in the last seven sessions for a loss of 8.6%. Paz rose 0.5% to 580.90. The Israel Securities Authority said Wednesday it would examine the resignation of the petroleum company’s chairman this week to ensure that it met standards of proper corporate governance. In foreign currency trading, the dollar shed nearly 0.3% to a representative rate of 3.64 shekels. (Assa Sasson)