Israel Corp Q1 loss widens on weaker Israel Chemicals results

JERUSALEM Wed May 28, 2014 6:09am EDT

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JERUSALEM May 28 (Reuters) - Israel Corp, one of Israel's largest holding companies, reported a wider quarterly loss due to a smaller profit at its chemicals unit, while its shipping subsidiary improved.

Israel Corp said on Wednesday it lost $62 million in the first quarter, compared with a $41 million loss a year earlier. The bottom line included a $70 million provision for more than a decade of royalties to the Israeli government by Israel Chemicals (ICL).

ICL, the world's sixth-largest potash producer and Israel's Corp's most lucrative holding, posted a first-quarter profit of $189 million, down from $305 million a year earlier.

Offsetting ICL was a narrower loss in shipping unit Zim - the world's 17th largest shipping line with a 2 percent market share - to $63 million, versus $112 million in the first three months of 2013.

Zim, hurt by tough economic conditions, has just completed a $3 billion financial restructuring including a $1.4 billion debt equity swap. The deal is still subject to creditor and shareholder approval as well as Israel Corp's general assembly.

During the quarter, Zim's revenue slipped to $867 million from $918 million, due to a 5 percent fall in freight rates over the past year. Its volume of containers rose 2 percent.

"With a dramatically improved balance sheet and cost structure, and the support of a committed workforce, the company is poised for a dramatic improvement in profitability over the coming years," said Zim Chief Executive Rafi Danieli.

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

TowerJazz posted a higher quarterly profit while Oil Refineries moved to a profit from a year earlier loss .

Qoros, a joint venture between Israel Corp and Chery Automobile Co, posted a quarterly loss of $59 million, compared with a $23 million loss a year earlier. (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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