Israel Corp loss grows on poor shipping, chemical units' results

JERUSALEM, March 27 Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:09am EDT

JERUSALEM, March 27 (Reuters) - Israel Corp, one of Israel's largest holding companies, reported a wider loss in the fourth quarter due to a smaller profit at its chemicals unit and a larger loss at its shipping subsidiary.

Israel Corp said on Thursday it posted a quarterly net loss of $406 million, compared with a $306 million loss a year earlier.

Shipping unit Zim, which has been hurt by tough economic conditions, lost $282 million in the last three months of 2013, wider than $238 million the prior year. Excluding extraordinary expenses, Zim's loss was $113 million.

Zim, the world's 17th largest shipping industry with a 2 percent market share, is in the middle of a financial restructuring process. In January, the firm agreed to a deal with most of its creditors that will see part of its debt swapped for shares and drop Israel Corp's stake to less than one-third.

The deal will slash Zim's overall liabilities to $1-$1.5 billion from about $3 billion.

During the fourth quarter, Zim's revenue fell to $888 million from $981 million, due to a 13 percent decline in average freight rates.

Zim also said it is in advanced negotiations with Israel's government regarding the cancellation of the state's "golden share", while maintaining the government's interests in a way accepted by the defence ministry.

Chemicals unit Israel Chemicals (ICL), the most lucrative holding and the world's sixth-largest potash producer, earned $195 million excluding one-off items, down 21 percent over the previous year.

Israel Corp last week said it was examining the sale of up to 7 percent of ICL. It currently owns 52.3 percent of ICL, which is planning a New York Stock Exchange listing.

Israel Corp is also the parent of chipmaker TowerJazz and Oil Refineries, and holds a stake in Chinese-Israeli carmaker Qoros.

TowerJazz posted a narrower quarterly profit , while the loss at Oil Refineries narrowed.

Qoros, a joint venture between Israel Corp and Chery Automobile Co, posted a quarterly loss of $144 million, compared with $55 million a year earlier. (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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