Real Estate Firms Looking for Financing With New Offerings

The wave of bond offerings on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is continuing. This week four firms will try to raise hundreds of millions of shekels in public bond offerings: the real estate firm The Leser Group, Elbit Imaging, the Bank of Jerusalem and the Mendelson firm. In addition, Aura Investments is expected to attempt to raise about NIS 15 million through the sale of shares.

The Leser Group was scheduled to conduct an institutional tender yesterday in connection with the issuance of about NIS 120 million in straight index-linked bonds. The offering is being led by the underwriting firms of First International Bank of Israel and Bank Leumi.

The Leser Group, which is involved in the income-producing real estate business in the United States, primarily in New York, is controlled by the ultra-Orthodox New York businessman Abraham Leser. At a time when the real estate crisis in the U.S., including New York, has not ended, The Leser Group is hoping it can manage to raise the funds without providing security or financing conditions. The Leser Group's bonds are rated A2 with a negative outlook, meaning the rating could be downgraded in the future. The bonds are to be index-linked with an average life of 5.35 years and a maximum yield of 6.4%, and are being offered at full face value.

Abraham Leser, whose company issued bonds in Israel at the beginning of 2008, when the financial crisis was beginning to intensify, told TheMarker at the time that he had decided to conduct the offering in Israel after receiving indications that it was possible to raise funds on the Tel Aviv exchange at a lower cost.

In the course of the week, Moti Zisser's holding company, Elbit Imaging, will try to raise about NIS 100 million through index-linked bonds. Prashkovsky Investments and Construction will attempt to raise about NIS 100 million in shekel-denominated bonds including a security interest and additional company commitments, for example promising not to issue a dividend if doing so would lower its shareholder equity below NIS 55 million. The offering is being underwritten by Meitav Investments' underwriting firm.

Not only real estate firms are looking for funds at this time. Mendelson, which is part of Kaman Holdings, which in turn is controlled by Roni Elroy, is also planning a bond offering.

Mendelson, which is in the business of fluid transportation, including the shipment of water, gas and fuel, has committed to certain financing conditions, including a promise that its shareholder equity will not fall below NIS 90 million (at the end of 2009 it was at about NIS 110 million) and it would maintain a ratio of adjusted shareholder equity to the company's balance sheet of not less than 25%. If it falls below 25%, the company is committed to compensate investors with a higher interest rate and, in the event of a sharp decline, investors will have grounds for early redemption. Kaman itself is undertaking to remain in the group controlling Mendelson.

The Bank of Jerusalem, which recently got a new CEO, Uri Paz, will attempt to raise NIS 100-200 million through A+ rated bonds this week, and Aura will issue stock in an effort to generate NIS 15 million. Aura, which is involved in residential real estate in Israel, the U.S. and Romania, and is controlled by Boaz Misholi and Joseph Saliah, has a market cap of about NIS 210 million. The offering is being led by Analyst Underwriting and Poalim IBI. Ronen Landesman, who had been chairman of the Israel Aerospace Industries investment committee, is special adviser on the offering.

Last week, Kardan Real Estate wrapped up an initial public stock offering, but it wasn't easy. Kardan managed to finish the job only after two days of institutional bids and after cutting the value of the offering from NIS 440 million to NIS 360 million. Kardan raised about NIS 140 million from stocks and bonds, becoming the second real estate company turning to the TASE in two weeks. The first was U. Dori Construction.