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Nochi Dankner companies dominated Dun & Bradstreet's latest list of the country's largest holding companies based but lost out on the top spot to the Ofer Brothers' Israel Corporation.
According to the D&B report which ranked the companies based on their abilities to self finance, Israel's holding and investment companies financed $4.8 billion of their own capital equity in 2005, 23 percent more than the previous year, as companies demonstrated a more liberal dividend policy in the face of higher overall profits.
"Israeli companies had a very good year on the stock market in 2005 and when that happens shareholders prefer to see dividend payouts," said Ella Fried, research analyst at business information company Dun & Bradstreet. "The data reflect a desire of companies to enjoy their profits and the needs of the individual companies."
As part of its research for the Duns100 list, D&B said that the top 10 holding companies had combined net income of $1.1b. for the year and, on average, paid 85% of that in dividends.
"Almost all of the top 10 realized a profit through issuing a dividend," said Reuven Kuvent, general manager of D&B, who noted that the top 10 companies had a combined value of approximately $12b. and revenues equal to around 12% of Israel's gross domestic product.
The priority criterion in the grading, however, was given to "self-equity" - that part of a company's equity not financed by debt.
Israel Corporation jumped from second to first place this year with $1.17b. in self-equity and profits of $345 million. D&B attributed the improved ranking to the company's income growth, which came as a result of it issuing a lower dividend than other companies, paying out just 18.6% of its profits as dividends in 2005.
Dankner's Israel Discount Corporation placed second with internally generated equity of $1.12b. resulting from the funds it raised in a share offering and a bond issue which together brought in $466m.
Other Dankner companies on the list were IDB Development Corp. and Koor Investments in third and fourth places, while Clal Industries & Investments took the number six spot and IDB Holdings was in seventh place.
Completing the top 10 were the Delek Group in the number five spot, Africa Israel Investments ranking eighth, and Fibi Holdings and Elron Electronics Industries in ninth and 10th place, respectively.