The Ticker / Bright Food Seeks More Time to Buy Tnuva

Hadera Paper mulls closing Turkish venture; Psagot warns on stocks facing regulation; Jordan suspends gas talks with Israel; TA-25 shares follow Wall Street lower.

Tnuva cottage cheese on display in a minimarket fridge.
Tali Mayer

China’s Bright Food has asked again to extend the deadline for closing a deal to buy control of Israel’s Tnuva for another three months to April 5, Mivtach Shamir, a Tnuva shareholder, said on Sunday. The latest delay comes after Mivtach Shamir asked to sell its shares in Tnuva alongside the private equity fund Apax Partners, which agreed last May sell control of the company, Israel’s biggest food maker, to Bright Food for 8.4 billion shekels ($2.1 billion). Mivtach Shamir had sought to stay on as a Tnuva shareholder but couldn’t get Bright Food to agree to the conditions it proposed, which would have given it a three-year option to sell the Chinese its stake at the same price that Apax is getting now. Bright Food must now get Chinese government approval to buy the Mivtach Shamir shares and arrange financing. Mivtach shares fell 2.8% to 90.29 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Hadera Paper mulls closing Turkish venture

Hadera Paper, which is paring back and selling operations to stem losses, is weighing shuttering the Turkish operations of its joint venture with America’s Kimberly-Clark. Closing the joint venture, which makes disposable diapers and feminine hygiene products, would be in line with Kimberly-Clark’s strategy of exiting slow-growth markets in Europe, where it has struggled to compete over the last 20 years with Proctor & Gamble. Kimberly-Clark Turkey had only a 6.2% share of the Turkish diaper market in 2013, although it has done better with feminine hygiene products under the Kotex brand, with a 13.7% market share. The depreciation of the Turkish lira forced the company to scale back sales projections for 2015-16 from an original $300 million to $213 million most recently. Hadera, which owns 49.9% of the Turkish joint venture, rose 1.3% to 68.92 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Psagot warns on stocks facing regulation

Investors should count on another strong years for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, but are warned to stay away from companies subject to government regulation and too much media attention, Psagot Investment House said on Sunday. The Bank of Israel is unlikely to raise interest rates until the start of 2016, and low interest rates will support higher share prices, it said. “Selectivity is important, focusing on companies that aren’t in the regulators’ sights or subject to public discussion, and instead on export companies that should continue enjoying the benefits for the shekel depreciation of the past year,” Psagot analysts said, adding that Israelis should put 60% of their equity holdings in foreign stocks. The investment house estimated Israel’s economy would grow 3.5% this year, with inflation a wafer-thin 0.5%. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Jordan suspends gas talks with Israel

Jordan has suspended talks with Israel on a $15 billion deal to import natural gas, the Globes financial daily reported on Sunday. Responding the Israeli Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo’s decision to break up the local gas cartel, Jamal Gamouh, a Jordanian lawmaker with responsibility for energy issues, said no deal could be completed until it was clear who would control the Leviathan gas field, Israel’s biggest and the subject of the antitrust ruling. The kingdom agreed in principle last September to import 45 billion cubic meters of gas over 15 years. Shares of Leviathan’s two Israeli partners closed down on Sunday, with Avner 2.6% lower at 2.69 shekels (68 cents) and Delek Drilling off 2.4% at 14.11. (TheMarker Staff)

TA-25 shares follow Wall Street lower

Tel Aviv shares ended down on Sunday, following a lower Wall Street and Europe. The TA-25 index lost 0.14% to close at 1,459.97 points, while the TA-100 fell 0.3% to 1,284.49 on turnover of 743 million shekels ($189 million) . Amid concerns over competitive pressures, cellphone shares were down again sharply, with Cellcom Israel losing 7.7% to 30.19 shekels and Partner Communications down 6.9% to 18.20 shekels. IDB Development Corporation pulled back after rallying last week on a major capital infusion from its controlling shareholders, losing 9.4% on Sunday to 1.80 shekels. (Dror Reich)