By Avi Shauli, Globes
Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. chairman and controlling shareholder Lev Leviev will be back in Israel, from his home in London to meet with worried shareholders.
Leviev will be meeting with institutional investors in a bid to change the negative sentiment affecting its securities of late.
The market crisis has affected most companies, but Africa-Israel has been exceptionally hard hit, after benefitting from strong support from investors in recent years.
The company’s share has fallen 81.3% so far this year to a price reflecting a market cap of under NIS 3.5 billion. Just a year and a half ago it had a market cap on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange of NIS 28.5 billion. The share saw 54% shaved off its price in September alone, a further example of the hysteria that has gripped its investors.
The question now being asked is whether Africa-Israel’s share falls were “overshot”, with investors raising concerns about the extent of the group’s exposure to the real estate crisis in the US. The falls in real estate prices vary from country to country, but the local market in New York is also feeling the pinch. Africa-Israel’s most recent sale of properties in Manhattan, which it agreed in August for $200 million, has not yet been closed.
In an interview with the Israeli popular daily Yedioth Aharonot, Leviev sounded optimistic, saying his company will overcome seasonal hardships.
“In my opinion, the storm and hurling are close to an end, ” he said. “We are now in the pick of the hard phase and I have no doubt that things are already developing to the other direction. After Yom Kippur the year and it’s curses will end and we will feel a sharp improvement.
“The markets with settled down, the trust and cash liquidity will return. From now I see just good. From the half of 2009 the picture will much faster.”