Sunday, September 10, 2017

Expanding Israeli Corruption Probe Batters Energy Shares - BLOOMBERG

September 10, 2017, 5:17 PM GMT+3
David Wainer, Yaacov Benmeleh
  • Probe could widen beyond investigation of submarine purchases
  • Delek, Israel’s largest gas company, falls 4.3 percent
Israeli gas company shares plunged on Sunday after a news report suggested that police investigators scrutinizing the purchase of submarines may expand their probe to the gas industry.

Delek Group Ltd., Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP and Isramco Negev 2 LP were all sharply down in Tel Aviv after Channel 2 reported on Friday that police may begin to question politicians in connection with decisions regarding the energy sector.

Delek, the holding company with stakes in Israel’s two biggest fields, Leviathan and Tamar, fell 4.3 percent to 668.90 shekels at the close in Tel Aviv, the biggest decline since February 2016. A Delek spokeswoman didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Channel 2, citing an unidentified person close to the investigation of the submarine deal, said the probe will broaden based on information given by a state witness. Current and former associates of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz have been detained and questioned in the submarine affair, including two more on Sunday, Israeli media reported. A spokeswoman for the minister, who himself has not been implicated, declined to comment.

“Investors are a bit jittery after a television report said that the submarine investigation will spread to the gas industry,” said Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd.

Scrutiny of the gas industry could batter the fledgling sector as companies including Delek seek to reach export accords with Egypt and Turkey. The government’s regulatory framework for the sector, approved last year, was criticized by political opponents and activists, in part because it was pushed through over the objections of the antitrust commissioner, on national security grounds.