The Ticker / Wix Raises 2015 Earnings Outlook

$297,000 penalty imposed on FIBI over money-laundering violations; Mega supermarkets removes Eden Teva’s founder as CEO.

Moti Milrod

Wix, the Tel Aviv-based company that helps small businesses build and operate websites, reported a smaller first-quarter loss and raised its forecast for 2015 Wednesday as more firms have converted to paid services from free ones.

Wix, which had over 62 million users as of the end of March, offers free basic features for setting up websites but requires users to pay for extra services such as individual Web addresses or site traffic analysis.

The company’s adjusted first-quarter loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization narrowed to $500,000 from $2.9 million a year earlier. Revenue surged 54% to $44.5 million. Nir Zohar, the company’s president and COO, said Wix expects to be profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis in the second quarter.

He said the company’s Super Bowl commercial this year helped build brand recognition in the United States. (Reuters)

$297,000 penalty imposed on FIBI over money-laundering violations
The Bank of Israel has imposed a 1.15 million shekel ($297,000) penalty on the First International Bank of Israel for what it says are violations of directives aimed at preventing money laundering, the central bank announced Wednesday. The decision, which is based on findings from 2013 that FIBI failed to report unusual transactions by customers, is potentially subject to appeal to a court. The Bank of Israel’s banking sanctions committee, which imposed the penalty, did say FIBI has taken steps to rectify the situation. (TheMarker)

Mega supermarkets removes Eden Teva’s founder as CEO
Mega, the supermarket chain with a 51% stake in organic food retailer Eden Teva Market, has removed Eden Teva’s CEO, Guy Provisor, and temporarily replaced him with Shmuel Timor, Alon Blue Square’s vice president of marketing. Provisor not only founded Eden Teva, the country’s largest natural food retailer. He is also a 49% shareholder in the business. Alon Blue Square Israel is the publicly traded company that directly controls Mega, and the move is seen as an effort by financially ailing Mega to exert tighter control over Eden Teva. Provisor has been embroiled in a dispute with Mega over whether their joint agreement requires him to inject additional capital into Eden Teva, which is having difficulty getting merchandise from suppliers who say they have not been paid. Provisor is demanding to be appointed chairman of the retailer, saying his agreement with Mega requires that he be CEO or chairman. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz)

Investors halt involvement in private bonds over Ofer Nimrodi’s arrest
Five institutional investment firms that were due to take part in a private bond placement from the Israel Land Development Co. on Tuesday backed out after investment managers learned of the arrest of Ofer Nimrodi, the CEO and controlling shareholder of the company. Nimrodi was arrested Monday over allegations that he bribed lawyer Ronel Fisher to get information about police investigations against him. Although Nimrodi was confined to two days of house arrest, his identity as the businessman arrested in the case was not initially disclosed. The 30 million shekel to 40 million shekel private placement was to have taken place through an expansion of the company’s Series 16 bonds. (Eran Azran)

TASE shares down following declines on Wall Street
Shares traded generally lower on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following the downward lead of Wall Street, which was influenced by concern over American employment and labor production data. The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 index declined by 0.52% to 1,622.31 points while the broader Tel Aviv-100 was off 0.56% to 1,416.17. Volume was 1.2 billion shekels ($310 million). Among the losers was Allot Communications, shares of which slumped by 6.15%. The gainers included Naphtha Israel Petroleum, which jumped by 6.3% and I.N.O.C. Dead Sea, which was up by 4.87%. Shares of Hamashbir 365 Holdings rose by just 0.57% despite news that Phoenix Holdings would be investing 31 million shekels in the retail company through a share issue that will give it 7.35% stake in Hamashbir. On the foreign exchange front, the representative rate of the dollar was set at 3.867 shekels, down 0.31%, while the euro jumped 0.62% to 4.343 shekels. (Dror Reich)