The Ticker: Tel Aviv Shares Follow World Markets Lower

Fishman in bid to retain control of JEC; Harel Locker group said to have top bid for Clal Insurance.

The entrance of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Bloomberg

Tel Aviv shares follow world markets lower

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended sharply lower yesterday following a global sell-down of shares over the weekend on concerns ranging from declining crude oil prices to the Federal Reserve’s interest hike. On the TASE, the benchmark TA-25 index ended the day down 1.5% at 1,495.67 points while the TA-100 fell close to 1.4% to 1,293.30, on turnover of 794 million shekels ($203.8 million). Among blue chips, Perrigo slumped 2.4% to 563.50 shekels, Israel Chemicals lost 2.4% to 16.30 and Bank Leumi dropped 2.1% to 13.31. Weighed down by losses at its U. Dori unit, property developer Gazit Globe fell 2.4% to 35.61, bringing its year-to-date decline to 17.5%. Energy shares, however, rallied amid growing optimism about gas exports to Turkey. Avner climbed 2.7% to 2.35 shekels and Ratio 3.8% to 28 agorot. Bond prices were higher, too, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond climbing 0.36% to cut its yields to 2.09%. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Fishman in bid to retain control of JEC

Eliezer Fishman looks increasingly as if he will be retaining hold over Jerusalem Economy Corporation even though Bank Leumi has been seeking to wrest control of the property company after the tycoon failed to repay debt. The test will come in a vote for JEC’s next chairman, which is pitting Fishman’s candidate Yossi Arad against Leumi’s choice, Avraham Biger, a former CEO of the Supersol food retailer. The bank as of last month held 40% of JEC as collateral, but its stake was diluted to 28% after Fishman engineered a 200 million-shekel rights offering in which the bank didn’t participate. Furthermore, the bank avoided formally taking control of the company for fear that bondholders would insist that it is liable for 3 billion shekels ($770 million) debt owed to them, and control thus remains with Fishman. As a result, the tycoon should be able to retain control of the board and ensure a majority for Arad, who has been an outside director since 2011. JEC shares fell 0.3% to 6.20 shekels yesterday. (Michael Rochvarger)

Harel Locker group said to have top bid for Clal Insurance

A Chinese group represented by Harel Locker, a former director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, has made the highest of three bids for control of Clal Insurance with an offer of 2.627 billion shekels ($670 million) for a 55% stake. The bid by the group, which consists of an investment company controlled by the Shanghai-based Wang family together with a Chinese government-controlled fund called Urban Transportation Investments, could reach 2.7 billion shekels including interest paid while the acquisition gets regulatory approval. A second bid is from the Chinese group Microlink Holdings for 2.48 billion, and a third is from Hong Kong-based tycoon Li Haifeng’s JT Capital for 2.75 billion shekels. But the latter two bids are contingent on Clal’s shareholders’ equity not falling below a certain level. The board of seller IDB Holding Corporation is to meet today to review the offers ahead of a government-imposed deadline of December 31. The bids come amid growing government cautiousness over Chinese control of local insurers. (Michael Rochvarger and Assa Sasson)

Alon spurns Co-op offer for 20 Mega stores

An offer by Co-op Israel, which operates the Co-op Shop supermarket chain, to buy 20 Mega in the City stores for 40 million shekels ($10.3 million) has been turned down by Mega’s parent company, Alon Blue Square, TheMarker has learned. Financially troubled Alon is only interested in selling the 114-store chain as a whole, if at all, but food retail sources said it is likely to have trouble finding a single buyer because the natural candidates to buy it are other supermarket chains that will encounter antitrust problems. The solution may be an offer from an investor group led by television pitchwoman Yafit Greenberg, which is reportedly interested in buying the entire chain from Alon. Rami Levy management has also met with Alon, but it is especially likely to meet antitrust problems after it agreed to buy part of Mega’s You discount supermarket sub-brand earlier this month. Shares of Alon Blue Square ended down 5% at 1.47 shekels (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz)