The Ticker: Bank Hapoalim Leaving International Private Banking Sector

Rami Levy’s operating profits jump by 95%, as revenues are also boosted by new stores; Cellcom threatens to seek dissolution of Golan Telecom if talks on sale fail; leading indexes up in TASE trading.

A woman uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Bank Hapoalim branch in Tel Aviv, Israel May 30, 2013.
Nir Elias, Reuters

Bank Hapoalim leaving international private banking sector, selling Miami branch

Bank Hapoalim has decided to pull out of the international private banking business, despite talking about plans to expand it just a year ago. Although a bank spokeswoman denied that Hapoalim has decided to sell Bank Hapoalim Switzerland, TheMarker understands it will be put up for sale, along with Hapoalim’s private banking operations in South America and its branch in Miami. The plans to put its Swiss bank up for sale was apparently taken by the banking group’s new CEO, Arik Pinto. The decision comes three years after its major competitor, Bank Leumi, decided to leave the private banking sector. Hapoalim intends to buy an American bank to provide credit to medium-sized businesses, but is not expected to attempt to do so until U.S. authorities complete an investigation over allegations that it assisted customers in evading U.S. taxes. (Michael Rochvarger)

Rami Levy’s operating profits jump by 95%, as revenues are also boosted by new stores

The third-quarter results of Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing, which operates the Rami Levy food retail chain, showed a recovery from the drag on previous results after it acquired six of Mega’s You supermarket branches. Rami Levy had net profits of 30 million shekels ($7.7 million), 88% higher than the same quarter last year. Major sales growth coupled with modest increases in costs resulted in an even bigger improvement in operating profits, which were up 95% at 38 million shekels. The chain’s gross profits, which rose by 22.7% for the quarter to 271 million shekels, were boosted by imports of meat and cheese that the company arranged directly; sales of its private brand products; and the use of its own logistics center for the shipment of fruit and vegetables. Revenues of 1.2 billion shekels for the third quarter showed a 21% improvement over the 2015 figure, a result in part over the opening of 10 new Rami Levy stores. Company shares rose 8.6% on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday, closing at 154 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Cellcom threatens to seek dissolution of Golan Telecom if talks on sale fail

Cellcom Israel, the country’s largest cellular service provider, informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday that it was close to taking legal action to seek the break up of its competitor, Golan Telecom. It is mulling the move over a debt of more than 600 million shekels ($155 million) that Golan owes Cellcom and after Cellcom said Golan decided unilaterally to pay only a portion of the fees it owes Cellcom for use of its cellular service network. The legal action will be taken, Cellcom said, if current negotiations for the sale of Golan Telecom to a third party do not bear fruit and resolve the debt. Cellcom, which is part of the IDB group, noted that there was a reasonable prospect for the sale of Golan, and added that “a substantial reduction of the future revenues from Golan will have a material, adverse effect on the company’s revenues and results of operations.” (Amitai Ziv)

Leading indexes up in TASE trading

The leading indexes on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange showed gains in trading on Sunday. The benchmark Tel Aviv 25 index rose 0.5% to 1,457.66 points, while the broader Tel Aviv 100 index closed at 1,272.46, up 0.5% on the day. Trading volume was 498 million shekels ($129 million). The oil and gas index and the communications and insurance indexes all showed gains on the day. Shares of Bank Hapoalim were the most heavily traded, on turnover of nearly 23 million shekels, closing 0.7% higher at 23.49 shekels. Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing had turnover of 21.6 million shekels and closed 8.6% higher, boosted by its quarterly financial results released late in the day Thursday. The Tel Bond indexes showed little change on the day. (Guy Erez)