Tel Aviv Stocks End at Their Lowest Point in 34 Months on Thursday

Business in Brief | Matomy founder-CEO steps down; Katzman taking over CEO job at Norstar; Bright Food restructures loan after Tnuva valuation plunges

A large digital ticker shows financial information to pedestrians outside the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.
Rina Castelnuovo, Bloomberg

TA-35 index ends at a 34-month low

Tel Aviv stocks ended at their lowest point in 34 months on Thursday, tracking European share markets lower. The blue chip TA-35 index ended down 1.1% at 1,378.66 points, its lowest since August 2014 and a 20% decline from August 2015. The TA-125 also lost 1.1% to end at 1,244.78. Turnover was just 758 million shekels ($207 million) due to a holiday-shortened trading day. Declines were paced by technology and insurance stocks. Among tech shares, TowerJazz finished 3.7% lower at 76.48 shekels, marking a third day of sharp drops in the last four trading sessions. Mannkind lost 4.2% to 4.78. Among insurers, Clal lost 2.9% to 56.02 and Harel 2.6% to 18.94. Big losers included SodaStream, down 3.6% to 182.50; Bank Leumi down 1% to 16.09; and Bezeq, down 1.1% to 6.18. Trading on the stock exchange resumes April 18 after a break for the final two days of Passover. (Guy Erez)

Matomy founder-CEO steps down

Israeli online advertising firm Matomy Media Group said Thursday its co-founder, Ofer Druker, is stepping down as CEO and will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Sagi Niri, effective immediately. “Ofer Druker has decided to step down from his role as CEO to pursue new challenges,” Matomy said in a statement. Niri, who is also Matomy’s chief operating officer, has worked closely with Druker as a key member of Matomy’s management team since joining the firm in 2008. Druker built Matomy from its inception to a company with revenue of $277 million in 2016. He led Matomy’s 2014 initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange and dual-listing on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Druker will also step down as a director, effective May 30, but provide strategic advice for at least one year. Prior to joining Matomy, Niri was chief controller at McCann Erickson Israel Group. Matomy shares ended down 0.5% to 5.14 shekels ($1.40). (Reuters)

Katzman taking over CEO job at Norstar

Chaim Katzman will take over from his friend and business partner Dori Segal as CEO at Norstar, the holding company that controls the giant real estate company Gazit Globe, TheMarker has learned. Norstar’s board was due to meet Thursday in Panama – where Norstar is domiciled – to approve the appointment, which Katzman will fill without a salary. He will remain as Norstar’s chairman. The appointment follows Segal’s move to Gazit Globe, where he took over as CEO from Rachel Lavine. The changes at the top of Israel’s biggest real estate group are part of a wider strategy, which began last year, to invest directly in property assets rather than indirectly through publicly traded companies. It sold 500 million shekels ($136.6 million) of shares in Canada’s First Capital in March and ceased to be a controlling shareholder in the company. Norstar shares ended down 3.2% at 76.44 shekels (Guy Erez)

Bright Food restructures loan after Tnuva valuation plunges

Bright Food, the Chinese company that owns Israel’s Tnuva, has been forced to repay part of a 2-billion-shekel ($550 million) loan it took to buy the dairy company because Tnuva’s valuation had dropped so sharply, sources told TheMarker. A group of lenders, led by Bank Hapoalim, had agreed to provide the loan two years ago when Bright Food bought Tnuva. But when it came time to roll over the debt, lenders required a valuation for Tnuva. This showed that Bright Food’s 77% stake in the company had plunged as much as 47% from the time it was acquired, to between 4.5 billion and 5 billion shekels. Since Bright Food’s Tnuva stock was the only collateral for the loan, lenders insisted that the company either reduce the loan by 900 million shekels or provide bank guarantees. It’s not clear what Bright Food did, but sources said most of the difference was likely provided by guarantee from the Development Bank of Singapore. (Yoram Gabison)