Azrieli Group make a splash on TASE

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June 8, 2010 13:25

Debut falls short of expectations but firm remains bullish on Israel.

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Azrieli Group make a splash on TASE

david azrieli 248 courtesy. (photo credit: Courtesy )

The Azrieli Group Ltd. made its debut on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Monday. But the first trading day was less successful than expected and may have put a damper on festivities held at the company’s flagship Azrieli Mall in the city.

By the end of the trading day, Azrieli Group had lost as much as 3.9 percent of its value, with shares falling to as low as NIS 80 at one point.

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Earlier this month, Azrieli sold 21% of its shares at NIS 83.25 each, bringing in NIS 1.72 billion from private investors and another NIS 300 million from the public.

The company was not listed on the benchmark Tel Aviv 25 Index as it had hoped. The TA- 25 lists the exchange’s 25 largest stocks by market capitalization.

To mark the occasion, David Azrieli, Azrieli Group’s 88-yearold Canadian-Israeli founder and chairman, Azriel Group general manager Menachem Einan and TASE officials rang the opening bell of the trading day during the ceremony at the Azrieli Mall.

“In difficult times we managed to join the Tel Aviv 100 Index,” Einan said. “But in different times we would have surely entered the Tel Aviv 25.” Azrieli has a “great number of projects planned, totaling some NIS 1.5 billion,” he said.

The Azrieli Group owns shopping centers, commercial centers and office parks in Israel, the public holding company Granit Carmel, 5% of Bank Leumi and 20% of Leumi Card.

It plans to open two new malls, in Acre and Kiryat Ata, and to build a second floor at Ramat Gan’s Ayalon Mall, the nation’s first shopping mall, which Azrieli opened in 1986.

The group also plans to build a shopping center and office tower in Rishon Lezion and a hi-tech center in Holon.

Political fallout from the IDF raid on the Gaza flotilla last week might have deterred some foreign investors from participating in the company’s initial public offering, Azrieli told reporters Monday. However, he said he was optimistic about the local financial market.

“The State of Israel is doing very well in comparison to other countries, and that will continue,” Azrieli said. “The state will continue to bloom and grow, and the financial market will do the same along with the state.” Azrieli said a bubble did not exist in the commercial realestate market.

“Look at the history of our company,” he said. “We have grown during every time of crisis.

A bubble here or a bubble there does not affect us. In commercial real estate I don’t see a bubble, and there is still much for us and other companies to do.” Azrieli said he didn’t plan to buy a controlling interest in Bank Leumi.

Regarding the issue of high salaries for business executives in Israel, he said: “This argument has received a great deal of headlines and people are taking care of it. I don’t want to express an opinion.”

Asked what he believed the future holds for his company, Azrieli said: “There is a very good answer in English: more of the same. We have done very well until now; we are an excellent company. We have at our disposal not only the funds necessary but also the team to do the job.” Azrieli said he didn’t believe the global recession would threaten the future of the company.

“We have done our best during global recessions, because we have always prepared for them,” he said. “Each leap forward we’ve had, we made during a time of recession. The global recession also offers opportunities: to invest, to buy, and to make money from it.”

Asked whether the Israeli market could support more large retail centers, Azrieli said: “Of course, good ones, only good ones. The bad ones will fall by the wayside.”

Azrieli’s net worth is listed by Forbes magazine at over $2b., and his Azrieli Foundation supports a litany of philanthropic endeavors.


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