Globes News: Leviev loans remain problem for Bank Hapoalim

Average salary falls; embedded-photo startup PicApp bought by US company.

A Bank Hapoalim branch 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Bank Hapoalim branch 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lev Leviev loans remain problem for Bank Hapoalim
Even following the debt settlement by Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. with its bondholders and bank creditors, the Leviev group is still at the top of Bank Hapoalim’s list of problem borrowers, people familiar with the matter told Globes Thursday.
Lev Leviev’s private company, Memorand Management (1998) Ltd. (through which he controls Africa-Israel), owes Bank Hapoalim NIS 1.3 billion, which the bank classifies as “problem debt.” The bank classifies half of the debt as “doubtful debt,” or debt against which the bank has made a provision. The bank classifies NIS 225 million of Africa-Israel’s debt as problem debt.
The debt settlement reduced Memorand’s problem debt by 10 percent and Africa-Israel’s problem debt by 20%.
Last May, Africa-Israel signed a debt settlement, several months after beginning negotiations on it. The company faced cash-flow problems caused by the global credit crunch, which adversely affected its real-estate investments in the US and Russia.
As part of the debt settlement, Africa-Israel converted 13 series of bonds, totaling NIS 7.4 billion, into two new bond series: one medium-term bond totaling NIS 1b., which has already been repaid; and a long-term bond (Series 26) totaling NIS 3.6b., which will be repaid by 2025.
At the same time as the Africa-Israel debt settlement, Leviev rescheduled Memorand’s debt.
According to information obtained by Globes, Memorand repaid Bank Hapoalim NIS 700m. in cash by the end of 2010, as part of the debt settlement. Nevertheless, Leviev and Memorand still top the list of the bank’s problem debt.
Average salary falls
The average gross monthly salary fell 0.3 percent to NIS 8,727 in January 2011 from NIS 8,759 in December 2010, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday. The average salary of Israeli employees fell 0.9% in the November-January period, after rising 0.5% in the August-October period.
Israel Electric Corporation and Mekorot (national water company) employees topped the salary charts with an average monthly salary of over NIS 20,000.
The number of salaried persons fell to 2.95 million in January from 2.96 million in December.
Embedded-photo startup PicApp bought by US company
By Globes correspondent
Embedded-photo startup PicApp Ltd. has been sold to digital-marketing company Ybrant Digital Ltd. of the US, the company announced Wednesday. PicApp cofounder and CEO Eyal Gura did not state the size of the deal.
Founded in 2008, PicApp raised $3.2 million from Carmel Ventures and private investors Yair Goldfinger and Lenny Recanati.
The Picapp widget enables online publishers to transform every static image to a dynamic slide show. The company also lets bloggers publish pictures and share profits.