The Ticker: Matthew Bronfman Eyeing Bid to Buy Clal Insurance

Africa Israel shares plunge on 2015 profit warning; Hadera Paper Mills posts big loss on write-downs.

Rami Shllush

Matthew Bronfman eyeing bid to buy Clal Insurance

Matthew Bronfman, a scion of the Canadian billionaire family, is eyeing buying control of Clal Insurance. Bronfman, who was once a controlling shareholder of Israel Discount Bank and whose portfolio includes Ikea Israel, met last week with the Commissioner of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings at the Ministry of Finance, Dorit Salinger, about buying control of the insurer, Israel’s second largest. The move comes after two aborted attempts by the IDB group to sell Clal, first to China’s Microlink and later to the New York-based AmTrust. Salinger has denied IDB an insurance license and she now wants the holding company to sell off its 55% stake in blocs of 5% every few months until it no longer controls the insurer. But IDB, which is controlled by Argentinean Eduardo Elsztain, is looking askance at a public sale, which would mean a lower valuation. Shares of Clal Insurance ended 2.2% higher at 44.14 shekels ($11.28). (Assa Sasson)

Africa Israel shares plunge on 2015 profit warning

Africa Israel Investments shares plunged yesterday after the property company said it expected to post a 2015 net loss of up to 1.9 billion shekels ($487 million) due to valuation losses at its AFI Development unit. AFI, a Russia-focused real estate company traded on the London Stock Exchange, estimated it would have an after-tax loss for the fourth quarter, including foreign exchange loss, of $470 million. It said an independent appraiser valued its Afi Mall City in Moscow at $686 million, down from $990 million at the end of September. Valuations of other assets also declined. Citing preliminary figures, AFI said the gross value of its property portfolio would likely fall to $1.4 billion at the end of 2015, from $1.97 billion at the end of the third quarter. AFI ascribed the losses to a “continuously challenging macroeconomic environment in Russia and respective depressed condition of the real estate market,” noting a further deterioration in the ruble-dollar exchange rate and oil prices during the fourth quarter. Africa Israel shares ended down 11.4% to 1.88 shekels. (TheMarker)

Hadera Paper Mills posts big loss on write-downs

Hadera Paper Mills yesterday posted an enormous fourth-quarter loss of 57 million shekels ($14.6 million), after an 84-million-shekel write-down in the value of assets. The loss,  however, narrowed from 131 million shekels a year earlier and came as other parameters showed improvement.  Revenues edged up 1.1% from a year earlier to 438 million shekels as sales of writing and printed paper rose. The company, which was acquired by the FIMI private equity fund in August, slashed sales and management costs by 38%, which enabled it to squeeze out a 13-million-shekel operating profit from continuing operations in the quarter, turning around from a loss of 28 million shekels a year ago. Financing costs were also down, by 44%, as Hadera cut its debt. Hadera shares ended down 1% at 116.60 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv shares bump along in minus territory

Tel Aviv shares ended slightly lower yesterday as the TA-25 index bumped along in minus territory all day. The benchmark index ended down 0.0.9% at 1,457.48 points, while the TA-100 index lost 0.25% to 1,254.19 points, as 1.36 billion shekels ($340 million) in shares changed hands. Energy, real estate and telecommunication shares led the market lower. Bezeq was down 1.4% to 8.61 shekels despite Psagot Investment House assigning a target price of between 9 shekels and 9.75 shekels depending on regulatory easements. Partner Communications finished 2.8% lower at 18.85 and Nice Systems down 1.3% at 2.39. Teva Pharmaceuticals was by far the day’s most active share, but ended down just 0.3% at 217.90 shekels. Mannkind led TA-100 shares up on a 7% rise to finish at 4.81 shekels. In foreign currency trading, the dollar strengthened nearly 0.5% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.9120 shekels and the euro gained 0.56% to 4.2812.
(Ruti Levy)