Business news in brief

Granite Hacarmel Investments Ltd. to be sold by its two biggest shareholders.

By SHARON WROBEL, DANIEL KENNEMER
September 7, 2006 13:35
2 minute read.

Granite Hacarmel Investments Ltd., an Israeli holding company with interests in energy and water engineering, will be sold by its two biggest shareholders, the company said. Merrill Lynch & Co. has been retained to sell the 53.3 percent stake owned by Boroglen Ltd., a joint venture between Switzerland's Glencore International AG, the world's largest commodities trader, and Israel's Borowitz-Mozes Group, Granite said. Boroglen is owned equally by the two partners. Based on Granite's market capitalization on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the holding is worth about NIS 446 million. Granite controls Sonol Israel Ltd., which operates filling stations and sells energy product; Tambour Ltd., a paint maker; and Tambour Ecology Ltd., which builds and operates water-treatment plants. Credit payment lag highest since Sept Following a bad month in July, when the fighting in the North started, the level of credit payment days reached a new peak in August, during which the highest number of 101 days since September last year was registered. In August the number of actual credit days increased by three days to 101 compared with the previous month, according to a Business Data Israel report, because of cashflow difficulties and payment irregularities during the war. The average mutually agreed credit period rose to 88 days in August compared with 86 days in July, while the average arrears period was 13 days in August compared with 12 days in July.BDI economists predicted further increases in credit payment days in coming months. War didn't spook foreign investors Foreign investors were net buyers of Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-traded shares during the month-long Lebanon war and only began to sell when it was over, figures from the Bank of Israel released today showed. Overseas investors bought a net $17 million in shares during the conflict which broke out July 12, the central bank said in a report. For the month of August they were net sellers of about $20m. in shares, it said. Foreigners reduced their holdings of TASE-traded bonds during the war by $53m., the bank said. In August, total inward investment reached $348m., led by $426m. in direct investment, the Bank of Israel said. War's effect on jobs still felt Despite a 2.6 percent rise in worker demand in August, it is too early to say that the war's effect on overall worker demand has ended, Manpower Israel CEO Dalia Narkis said Wednesday. Before rising to 100.5 in August, the worker demand index fell 14% in July to 98. The August 2006 level was therefore still 11.9% below August 2005's index level of 114. "We are still witnessing the war's influence on the economy and a slowdown in growth of general economic activity ... All these affect the slowdown in new hirings, at least until the economic uncertainty scatters and expected government measures [are implemented]," Narkis said. While worker demand dropped in hospitality and food services (down 6.5%); banking, finance and insurance (4.2%); business services (1.3%); education (14.3%) and households (2.5%), increased demand was seen in industry (up 4.5%); construction (11.5%); transportation and communications (18.9%) and community services (17.2%). Bloomberg contributed to this report


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