The Ticker: El Al's Passenger Numbers Tumble at Ben-Gurion Airport

Heirs of 888 founder sell last remaining shares ■ Elovitch gets relief as bondholders agree to swap

Travelers at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport.
Ofer Vaknin

El Al Airlines saw its passenger count at Ben-Gurion International Airport drop 13% from a year ago in September, a key travel month due to the Jewish High Holidays. The number came in at 480,000 passengers, the Israel Airports Authority said Tuesday. The news also marked the first time this year that Israel’s flagship carrier saw its share of Ben-Gurion traffic fall below 25%. A year ago El Al accounted for 30.2% of all traffic at Israel’s main international airport, but last month the figure was just 24.4%. The market-share figure is important to El Al, which enjoys reduced fees from the IAA if its share tops 30%. In the first nine months of the year, El Al flew 0.3% more passengers through Ben-Gurion, but overall air traffic rose 16% thanks to record tourism to and from Israel. Still, most of the increased traffic has been captured by low-cost carriers, led by Wiz Air and Pegasus. (Rina Rozenberg Kandel)

Heirs of 888 founder Aharon Shaked sell last remaining stock
The heirs of Aharon Shaked, one of four cofounders of the gambling website company 888 Holdings, sold the last of their shares Wednesday, sending the London-traded share lower. The heirs had sold about half their holding four months ago at 270 pence ($3.54), and on Wednesday offloaded the rest at 243 pence for a combined 220 million pounds. Shaked cofounded 888 two decades ago with his brother Avi and the brothers Shai and Yaron Ben-Yitzhak, and took it public in London in 2005. Shaked died seven years ago at age 58, and the Ben-Yitzhak brothers divested their shares a year ago in a dispute with Avi Shaked over strategy, according to The Financial Times. The latest sale by the Shaked heirs was at a 7% discount to the market price Wednesday, which led to a 6.2% decline on the market to a close of 243 pence. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Elovitch gets relief as Internet Gold bondholders agree to swap
After some last-minute improvements in the terms, three quarters of the holders of Internet Gold’s Series Gimmel short-term bonds agreed Tuesday to swap them for longer-term Series Dalet bonds. Bondholders agreed to swap 181 million shekels ($51.4 million) of the Gimmel bonds due in less than a year for 201 million shekels of Dalet bonds due as late as 2022 via a private placement. The swap will increase the company’s debt-service costs but will make it less reliant on dividends paid by its B Communications subsidiary. The move offers significant financial breathing space for Shaul Elovitch, the telecom tycoon who controls Internet Gold, B Communications and Bezeq and is under pressure amid a wide-ranging securities investigation into the acquisitions by Bezeq of his Yes satellite television unit in 2015. Shares of Internet Gold ended up 1.1% at 26.98 shekels on Tuesday. (Michael Rochvarger)