Business in Brief: January 18

Shamir, Leumi battle over Tnuva; Steinhardt raises stake in KCPS; Facebook exposure jumps in Israel; Index: Home buyers remain hesitant.

Tnuva milk bags 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tnuva milk bags 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shamir, Leumi battle over Tnuva
Mivtach Shamir Holdings controlling shareholder Meir Shamir and Bank Leumi are battling bitterly over terms of the sale of Tnuva Food Industries. Mivtach Shamir is trying to press Bank Leumi for an extra NIS 100 million, after Israel Securities Authority demands led to canceling an options clause in the sale agreement. The clause is supposed to compensate Mivtach Shamir for a rise in value by Tnuva.
Meir Shamir upped the ante on Monday. In a notice to the TASE, the company said the sale of the Tnuva stake had been canceled, and that the deal under its current structure would not go ahead. “The company and the bank are jointly considering the possibility of a different deal,” Mivtach Shamir said.
Bank Leumi believes that since the option works in both directions, which gives the bank a safety net, cancellation of the deal does not require renegotiating the price for Tnuva. Sources close to the deal said there were few companies in Israel that could replace Bank Leumi in the deal, and that Shamir should remember that he might have no alternatives.
Steinhardt raises stake in KCPS
KCPS & Co., run by chairman CEO Tal Keinan, on Monday announced that David Steinhardt, who cofounded the company with Keinan and Jay Pomrenze, has increased his stake in the company with a “substantial” purchase of shares for tens of millions of shekels. Steinhardt has also been appointed president and put in charge of the company’s US operations.
Headquartered in Tel Aviv and with offices in New York and Geneva, KCPS is an asset manager and provides financial services. The company operates through two arms that provide institutional clients with advice and specialized investment-management services and manage investment funds (private equity, the KCPS Manof debt recycling fund and hedge funds). Steinhardt’s role is with the overall parent firm.
His new duties in the wake of his increased stake in KCPS & Co. include responsibility for investment policy in various fields and running the firm’s New York office. Steinhardt, the son of famed investor Michael Steinhardt, is a 20-year veteran of the investment management industry on Wall Street. He was a partner in US hedge fund Wooster Asset Management. Before that he held various jobs at US investment companies.
Facebook exposure jumps in Israel
Globes correspondent
Facebook’s weekly exposure rate jumped 20 percent in 2010 to become Israel’s second-largest website, according to the TIM semiannual survey for December. Google tops the charts with a weekly exposure rate of 91%.
Internet portal Walla’s weekly exposure rate rose 5% to 65.9%, regaining third place, and was followed by YouTube, whose weekly exposure rate fell 2.3% in December, putting it in fourth place. Hebrew news site Ynet is in fifth place, after its weekly exposure rate increased 6.8% to 59.8%.
Among financial sites, the weekly exposure rate of Globes rose 9.6% in December to 13.1%, while The- Marker’s weekly exposure rate fell 7.4% to 13.4%. Last year, Globes’s weekly exposure rate rose 5.6%, while TheMarker’s weekly exposure rate fell 8.1%.
Globes leads in surfing from the workplace, with a weekly exposure rate of 13.8%, compared with 13.1% for TheMarker.
Index: Home buyers remain hesitant
Fewer Israelis are planning to buy an apartment in the near future, according to the Consumer Confidence Index for December 2010. The survey underpinning the index, which is compiled by Globes Research, found that the downward trend has lasted for three months, since September.
Only 7.8 percent of respondents in December said they planned to buy an apartment in the next six months, the lowest figure since July. The figure represents a 14.3% drop within one month in the number of Israelis planning to buy a home.
The same trend appears in figures of willingness to buy a home, based on a three-month moving average. Although the proportion of people planning to buy an apartment is higher (at 9%), and the monthly drop is lower (at 12.6%). These figures show a falling trend over the same period. July 2010 was the last month in which the willingness to buy an apartment was lower.
Rafael expected to take over IMI

After completing several weeks of staff work, it appears that the Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry plan to merge Israel Military Industries with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Officials from the two ministries worked together with the Histadrut on the plan.
The teams examined various aspects of a merger of IMI with one of the two government defense companies, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries. Both companies expressed interest in acquiring IMI, and both companies told the work teams of the considerable synergy between their activities and the activities of IMI.
The Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry intend to announce their decision in a few days, people familiar with the matter told Globes Monday. The longstanding plan to privatize IMI will be dropped, and the company will be merged with Rafael, which is considered a profitable and financially sound company. In recent weeks, Elbit Systems also expressed strong interest in acquiring IMI.