The Ticker: Israel to Tap Eurobond Market Next Week for First Time Since 2014

Mobileye, BMW, Intel partnership to put first self-driving cars on roads later this year; Treasury opposes sale of insurers to Chinese buyers, Bloomberg reports.

Israel to tap euro-bond market next week for first time since 2014

Israel expects to tap the Eurobond market for the first time in three years next week with a bond sale that sources said could be anywhere between 1 billion and 2 billion euros ($1.05 billion-$2.1 billion). Sources said that treasury officials would be going to London, Frankfurt and Paris early next week and if they determine that market conditions are favorable will go ahead with the offering at the end of the week. They declined to estimate the exact size of the offering or other terms. The proceeds will help fund the 2017 budget deficit, which is targeted at 2.9% of gross domestic product, but more importantly keep open channels with European investors. Israel last sold euro bonds in January 2014, a 1.5 billion-euro issue due in 10 years. It raised $1.5 billion in 10-year dollar bonds last March at 2.942%. Israel sovereign debt enjoys a relatively high A-plus rating from three main ratings agencies. (Moti Bassok)

Mobileye, BMW, Intel partnership to put first self-driving cars on roads later this year

Just six months after unveiling plans to collaborate on autonomous-driving technology, Israel’s Mobileye together with BMW and Intel said Wednesday that they would be putting some 40 self-driving cars on U.S. and European roads by the second half of the year. Speaking at a press conference at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, the three firms said the BMW 7 Series cars would employ Intel and Mobileye technologies during global trials. “Our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions. This is a significant step towards the introduction of the BMW iNEXT in 2021, which will be the BMW Group’s first fully autonomous vehicle,” said BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich. Since the partnership was announced last July, the three said they had developed a scalable architecture that can be adopted by other automotive developers and carmakers from key integrated modules to a complete end-to-end solution.  Shares of Mobileye were up 2.9% at $42.35 late morning local time in New York. (Omri Zerachovitz).

Treasury opposes sale of insurers to Chinese buyers, Bloomberg reports

In remarks that could signal problems for Fujian Yango Group’s offer to buy Phoenix Holdings, an unnamed senior official said Israel’s treasury opposes the sale of insurance firms to Chinese investors, Bloomberg News reported. The officials didn’t rule out the possibility of exceptions but said Chinese companies didn’t have an established track record in managing long-term savings, like pension funds. The government is more inclined to approve Chinese investments in industrial assets, where pension money is not at risk, he said. Chinese investors have shown strong interest in Israeli insurers Clal and Phoenix, both of which are up for sale, but no deals have been completed and in one case regulators scotched a planned sale. Fujian Yango agreed to buy Delek Group’s 52.3% stake in Phoenix five months ago at a 1.95 billion shekels ($510 million at current exchange rates) but has yet to get regulatory clearance. Delek shares ended down 0.3% at  831 shekels, but Phoenix gained 2.8% to 13.05. (TheMarker Staff)

Ormat Technologies to buy U.S. energy-management startup for $35 million

Ormat Technologies said on Tuesday it was expanding from its core geothermal energy business into the growing market for energy-storage-and-demand technology with the acquisition of Viridity Energy. Ormat said it was paying $35 million for the Philadelphia startup and would pay out further money at the end of this year and in 2020 based on performance milestones. Founded in 2008, Viridity has developed proprietary software that helps utilities and big manufacturing firms better manage their energy usage. The energy-storage software sector is tiny right now, but a study by Navigant Research estimated it would grow to $3.4 billion by 2025 from $201.2 million last year. “Ormat will continue to provide services and products to existing customers, while expanding into new geographies and targeting a broader potential customer base,” said Ormat CEO Isaac Angel. Shares of Ormat, which said the deal would beginning generating positive operating income in 2017, ended down 1.5% at 204 shekels ($52.94). (TheMarker Staff)

Tel Aviv shares gain moderately

Tel Aviv shares rose moderately on Wednesday, led by rallying telecoms shares (see story on this page) and gains by Teva Pharmaceutics. The blue chip TA-25 index edged up 0.04% to 1,464.31 points, while the TA-100 added 0.2% to 1,287.77, on turnover of 1.43 billion shekels ($370 million). The TA-Com index rose 2.1% to 989.10 points amid anticipation of higher cellphone rates ahead, while volume leader Teva gained 1.5% to 146 shekels. But the gains were weighed down by declines of 4% for Mannkind to 2.44 shekels, which resumed a sharp decline after a failed clinical trial last week. Kenon Holdings dropped 3% drop to 42.16, capping a three-day loss of 8.2%, and Frutatom’s 1.8% decline to 200.50. The Jewish Colonial trust sold six million shares of Bank Leumi stock on Wednesday in mostly off-the-floor translation to a total of 100 million shekels. Leumi finished up 0.7% to 15.71 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)