Ocif Halts Talks to Buy Moscow Offices Complex, Interest in Atlas Estates

Gaydamak companies have lost NIS 800 million in market cap since July.

Real estate company Ocif Investment & Development may not exactly be going the places its fairly new controlling shareholder, Arcadi Gaydamak, intended. On Tuesday the company, which is listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, told investors it has ceased talks to buy a 40,000-square-meter office complex in Moscow, and to buy an 18 percent interest in Atlas Estates.

Ocif had been negotiating to buy the Atlas shares from Elran Real Estate, which is controlled by Gadi and Dori Dankner. The negotiations had priced Atlas at 60 million to 70 million euros, or roughly 10 percent above its market capitalization on London's AIM exchange.

Gaydamak had bought the controlling interest in Ocif in May, which sent the company's stock surging. But not for long. In the summer the share price started to tumble. Gaydamak had paid about NIS 580 million for the company, whose market capitalization shrank by 37 percent in four months to its current level of NIS 728 million.

Ocif recently carried out its first major transaction since Gaydamak's takeover. It agreed to buy 90 percent of the shares in infrastructure development company Arenson for NIS 145 million.

Gray months for Gaydamak

Gaydamak owns interests in four Israeli publicly traded companies; the biggest is Ocif, which is listed on the TA-100 index. He also owns the controlling stake in Gilon Investments, which has tumbled 43 percent inside three months, and Petrogroup, which has outdone the rest of the "Gaydamak stocks" with a 47 percent retreat in three months.

The Russian-Israeli businessman also owns the controlling interest in Willi-Food, which saw its stock drop 28 percent in three months.

In July alone, the Gaydamak public companies lost NIS 770 million in value. Seen over four months, the number is NIS 800 million.

This striking loss of value has to be taken in the context of the times, and the comparison is not flattering. It is true that the last three months have not been tranquil for investors. Volatility intensified as nervousness spread, yet whatever the situation on Wall Street, Israel's leading indexes held their own and more.

The TA-25 index of blue chips gained 13 percent in the last three months, while the TA-100 index advanced by 11 percent. Smallcaps seem to have been rather more vulnerable to the global jitters; in the last three months the MidCap-50 index gained no ground, though it didn't lose any, and the Yeter-120 broad market index lost ground.

In terms of absolute money, among the "Gaydamak stocks," Ocif lost the most: NIS 450 million in market capitalization, while Petrogroup lost NIS 189 million, and Willi-Food and Gilon shed NIS 74 million and NIS 75 million respectively. But Gilon also owns the controlling interest in an investment firm called Sprint Investments, whose market value shrank to a very low NIS 19 million.