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Business in Brief: Israeli Suit Linked to Lehman Collapse Ends With $2m Settlement

TA-100 companies leaves Israeli investors’ exposed abroad | Local tech firm Vonetize pulls Tel Aviv IPO | Tech, property pace gains for Tel Aviv shares.
Six years after a class action suit was launched against it for failing to downgrade bonds connected with Lehman Brothers, the Israeli bond rating agency Maalot S&P on Sunday reached a settlement to pay investors 8 million shekels ($2.1million).
The small sum approved by Tel Aviv District Court, was a fraction of the approximately 300 million in damages originally sought, but that was due to the fact that in the meantime trustees for the failed U.S. investment bank paid out significant claims.
The suit was filed by investors who held bonds by an Excellence investment house unit called World Currencies and by Keshet Bonds, both of which were backed by Lehman. In the suit, plaintiffs said S&P Maalot failed to lower its rating on the bonds until after Lehman collapsed. S&P Maalot defended its actions by saying it acted like other rating agencies at the time and said Lehman’s demise came as a surprise. (Jasmin Gueta)
TA-100 companies add significantly to Israeli investors’ overseas exposure
Israeli investors have greater exposure to overseas stock markets than they think, an important fact to consider at a time when Brexit fears are weighing on global stock markets, research published by the Bank of Israel on Sunday found.
While Israelis held about 269 billion shekels ($69.3 billion) in foreign shares at the end of 2015, or about 8.1% of their total financial assets, they held another 14.9% in shares belonging to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-100 index that also exposed them to overseas markets. Bank of Israel economists said that is because more than 53% of the sales non-financial TA-100 companies are generated abroad and those companies are far more sensitive to changes in overseas stock markets than companies that sell only to Israel.
This indirect equity exposure, central bank economists said, increases the public’s exposure to foreign equity markets by 40%. For institutional investors, it increases their exposure 15%, they added. (Shelly Appelberg)
Vonetize pulls Tel Aviv initial public offering
Vonetize, a small high-tech company of the kind the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has hoped to attract, pulled an initial public offering at the end of last week, although it promises it will try again. The company, a maker of video-on-demand services, had cut the size of the offering to 31 million shekels ($8 million) from 58 million while slashing the value of the company by almost 60% to 119 million, but Vonetize said on Thursday it failed to enlist enough institutional investors to complete the offering.
“There was a technical problem in processing all the orders that were committed in the [share] auction,” said CEO Noam Josephides. “We plan a new auction in another week to fix the problem and compete it as planned.” However, market sources said the valuation for the company was excessive considering its revenues amounted to just $1.9 million last year, leaving it with an operating loss of $2.9 million. (Shelly Appelberg)
Tech, property pace gains for Tel Aviv shares
Tel Aviv shares ended sharply higher for a second session on Sunday, powered by tech and real companies. The TA-25 and TA-100 indices both ended the day up 1.37% at 1,431.80 and 1,245.29 points, respectively, in typically light Sunday turnover of 530 million shekels ($136.5 million).
SodaStream topped gainers on the TA-100, adding 7.4% to 90 shekels, tracking gains in New York over the weekend, but tech companies were the outstanding performers of the day, led by Mazor Robotics, which advanced 5.3% to 39.74 after Standpoint Research initiated coverage of the stock with a Buy. Gilat rose 5.25% to 16.64 while SpaceCom rose 4.6% to 35.70 after it said it won a $63 million government contract. LivePerson, which spiked Thursday on a Buy recommendation, pulled back 2.6% to 26.90, making it the biggest loser on the TA-100 for the day. Elbit Systems finished up 1.4% to 367 shekels after it won a $19 million homeland-security contract from Uruguay. (Uri Tomer)

Jasmin Gueta

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/isra…/business/daily-roundup/1.730109


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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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