The Ticker

Bondholders to Weigh U.S. Offer to Buy Africa Israel in Exchange for Haircut

Cellcom blames Golan as third-quarter profit declines | Playtech buys 70% stake in brokerage-service firm for $120 million

Lev Leviev, the controlling shareholder of Africa Israel.
Moti Kimchi

Bondholders to weigh U.S. offer to buy Africa Israel in exchange for haircut

Africa Israel Investments bondholders will be asked on today if they are ready to consider an offer by the U.S. investor Westport Capital Partners to buy the heavily indebted property developer in exchange for a 500 million-shekel ($129.8 million) cash injection.

The cash would be divided up among bondholders as they see fit, but in exchange they would also have to agree to write off 700 million shekels, or 25%, of the debt owed them as part of the deal and convert 150 million shekels of debt into equity.

Westport, which was founded in 2005 by Russell Bernard and manages some $2 billion in assets, said the offer is non-binding but contingent on bondholders agreeing to give it 30 days of exclusivity to conduct due diligence before it goes ahead with a final offer.

Africa Israel has been engaged for months in listless negotiations with bondholders over a bailout of the company. Shares of Africa Israel ended down 4.2% at 1.19 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)

Cellcom blames Golan as third-quarter profit declines

A customer uses a mobile handset outside a Cellcom Israel Ltd. store in the Ramat Gan district of Tel Aviv, Israel, August 18, 2011.
Ariel Jerozolimski, Bloomberg

Cellcom Israel, the country’s largest mobile phone operator, reported lower third-quarter profit yesterday, blaming part of the problem on rival Golan Telecom’s failing to pay the full amount it agreed on for its use of Cellcom’s network.

Golan filed a lawsuit in an Israeli court last month, declaring it does not owe the company 600 million shekels ($155.7 million) for national roaming services that Cellcom had been providing it. Cellcom earned a net profit of 33 million shekels in the quarter, down from 40 million a year earlier as revenue fell 3.9% to 992 million shekels.

The company had been forecast to earn 35 million shekels on revenue of 1.02 billion shekels, according to a Reuters poll of analysts. Cellcom’s subscriber base declined by 0.4% in the quarter from the same time last year to 2.822 million, but its TV subscriber base nearly doubled to 99,000 households. Shares of Cellcom ended down 2.1% to 27.31 shekels. (Reuters)

Playtech buys 70% stake in brokerage-service firm for $120 million

Playtech, the gaming-software company controlled by Israeli Teddy Sagi, said it was buying control of Consolidated Financial Holdings, which provides online trading services to retail brokers. Playtech, which said it had already received approvals for the acquisition, will pay $120 million for a 70% stake in the company and took an option to buy the rest later.

“CFH has proven technological capabilities and has developed not only a leading platform in the STP brokerage industry, but also relationships with an impressive range of retail broker,” said Playtech CEO Ron Hoffman.

“The acquisition of CFH will strengthen Playtech’s offering in the B2B market of financial trading and provide the foundation for future acquisitions.” The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the month, after which most of CFH’s management is expected to stay on, Playtech added. Shares of Playtech ended 3% higher at 909 pence ($11.33) in London. (Uri Tomer)

Tel Aviv shares end mixed as markets seek post-Trump direction

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed Monday as global financial markets continued their quest to make sense of the Trump presidency. The blue chip TA-25 index finished down 0.2% to 1,429.72 points, while the TA-100 edged up 0.06% to 1,248.48, on turnover of 1.64 billion shekels ($430 million). Bank shares were mixed after soaring to a record close the day before. Hapoalim was the volume leader for the market on turnover of 143 million shekels but ended unchanged at 22.85 shekels. Leumi ended down 1.3% at 15.61 and Mizrahi Tefahot 1.1% lower at 53.60.

Other big losers were Nice Systems, which shed 3.35% to 251.10 and Bezeq, which lost 1.6% to 6.70. El Al Airlines lost 1.7% to 3.50 after the Histadrut declared a labor dispute.  But Perrigo gained 2.4% to 350.20 and tech shares were higher. Ceragon jumped 9.7% to 9.72 after reporting net profit rose to $3.5 million in the third quarter from $1.4 million a year ago.  (Shelly Appleberg)