Union Head Claims El Al-pilots Deal Reached, but Airline Says No Such Agreement Exists Yet

Business in Brief | Medical cannabis deal sends shares of Amir Marketing sky high ■ Ashtrom and Dan to build Bnei Brak skyscraper project ■ September CPI ticks up 0.1%, as housing prices slightly sag

Israeli airliner El Al planes parked at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

Union head claims El Al-pilots deal reached, but airline says no such agreement exists yet

After a year of negotiations, El Al has come to a ground-breaking agreement with its pilots, according to a letter obtained by Haaretz that the chairman of the pilots’ union, Ran Elkabetz, sent to El Al pilots. However, El Al denied a deal had been reached. Elkabetz wrote that the “deal is based on a significant restructuring of company pilots and operational flexibility in line with the new law on employee rest, as well as a significant improvement in our standard of living and adjusting the basic hourly wage to a level acceptable in the country and abroad.” Sources familiar with the deal say that while hourly wages will rise, salaries will remain similar due to a reduction of time they will be on the clock while abroad. There will also be fewer pilots per flight. The union declined to comment. El Al issued its denial to the stock exchange, where shares of the airline jumped 8.5% on Monday. (Gabriela Davidovich-Weisberg)

Medical cannabis deal sends shares of Amir Marketing sky high

About half a year after announcing that it was entering the medical cannabis field, Amir Marketing and Investments announced on Sunday that it had received approval of a contract that sent its stock price soaring 22.3% on Monday. The deal is to invest in Breath of Life, which operates in Israel’s medical cannabis industry. Amir Marketing, which supplies and markets agricultural supplies, will invest $30 million, together with Super-Pharm chairman Leon Koffler – who is chipping in $10 million of his own money. The partners will invest $10 million in the initial stage. BOL, in return, committed to issuing an IPO in a “recognized” market like Canada or the United States. BOL will either pay back the investment as an interest-bearing loan within four years or convert the funds into shares should it go public, based on a valuation of $122.4 million. (Guy Erez)

Ashtrom and Dan to build Bnei Brak skyscraper project

Ashtrom Group announced on Monday that it is stands to gain 766 million shekels ($210 million) in revenue soon. Its subsidiary, Ashtrom Properties, and Dan Public Transportation, which in recent years has expanded its operations to develop real estate projects, signed a deal to establish the LYFE project in Bnei Brak. Dan acquired the land first, selling half of the rights to Ashtrom in 2016. The companies expect the project to generate 1.3 billion shekels in revenue and 220 million shekels in profits. The project consists of two towers, one 34 stories and the other 36 stories tall, covering nearly 16 dunams. The companies say they have sold 44,000 square meters of space in the first tower for 527 million shekels and will soon begin marketing the second skyscraper. Shares of Ashtrom Group, which had declined 12% so far this year, edged up 0.7%, while Ashtrom Properties’ share price rose 1.1% on Monday. (Shelly Appelberg)

September CPI ticks up 0.1%, as housing prices slightly sag

The Consumer Price Index for September rose ever so slightly by 0.1%, the same as the index rose in August, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Monday. Inflation is up 1.2% for the past 12 months. The bureau noted that housing prices declined by 0.3% in September after months of going nowhere, and are now down 1.1% over the past 12 months. The index of new home prices dropped 1.2% in September. Still, these two indices are not factored into the CPI. Rather, the CPI includes rental prices, which did increase 0.6% in September. Without housing, the CPI slipped 0.1%. Inflation has been 1.1% for 2018. The Bank of Israel relied on this slow pace to maintain a policy of not lifting interest rates, which have remained among the lowest in the world at 0.1% since March 2015. The central bank has lowered its inflation projection for 2018 from 1.2% to 0.8%. (Avi Waxman)

Tel Aviv trading ends in the red, but El Al shares soar

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange spent Monday in the red, nearly rallying into positive territory before sinking after Wall Street opened in New York with sharp declines. The TA-35 declined 0.5% to end the day at 1590.47, while the broader TA-125 was off 0.4%, settling at 1437.51. The Banks-5 index fell even sharper, 0.8%. Turnover was brisk at 1.272 billion shekels ($349 million). El Al bucked the trend, with its shares soaring 8.5% after news leaked that the company and the pilots’ union had reached an agreement to end their dispute. Shares of Fox, the retail apparel company, gained 1.4% after an independent inquiry concluded that its CEO, Harel Wiesel, had not sexually harassed female employees. On the down side, shares of Israel Chemicals declined 3%. In forex trading, the dollar remained unchanged at 3.63 shekels per dollar, while the Euro was off a slight 0.04% at 4.2021 euros per shekel. (Jasmin Gueta)