Israel Chemicals Drops Most in Week as CEO Mozes to Retire

Israel Chemicals Ltd. fell the most in more than a week after the maker of fertilizer from minerals harvested from the Dead Sea said Chief Executive Officer Akiva Mozes will retire after 13 years in the position.

The shares fell 2.5 percent, the most since Dec. 29, to 39.27 shekels by the 4:30 p.m. close in Tel Aviv. The stock lost 35 percent last year, compared with an 18 percent decline in the TA-25 benchmark, amid concern about the regulatory environment regarding royalties and the issue of salt harvesting.

“Mozes was a very respected manager,” Guil Bashan, an analyst at I.B.I.-Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said today in an e-mailed note. “His departure will be a loss.”

The company on Dec. 29 approved an agreement with the government to pay increased royalties on potash production and finance most of the costs to clean up salt residue, a byproduct of potash production, at the Dead Sea. Israel, which imposed a tax on gas and oil producers last year to boost the public’s share of revenue from natural resources, is reassessing its overall royalties-payments policy, TheMarker reported Jan. 3.

Mozes is the third Israeli chief executive officer to step down this year. Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., Israel’s largest lender by assets, said Jan. 1 that CEO Galia Maor will leave in the second quarter after 16 years as one of the nation’s most-prominent business leaders. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s largest generic drugmaker, on Jan. 2 named Jeremy Levin, a former executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb, to replace CEO Shlomo Yanai.

‘Very Good Year’

Third-quarter net income at the Tel Aviv-based company rose 80 percent and revenue jumped 37 percent as Israel Chemicals sold more products at higher prices. Mozes told Bloomberg TV in October that 2011 would be a “very good year” as the company focuses on demand from emerging markets.

“I think transferring the responsibility to another manager is the right thing to do after so many years at the top job of the company,” Mozes, 65, said in a statement today. No date was set for his retirement.

Mozes’s resignation comes as India, the world’s third-largest potash buyer, said on Jan. 6 that it will delay signing new contracts to purchase the soil nutrient until July.

A decline in Indian imports may help cool a 39 percent rally in export prices of potash from Canada in the past year and potentially lower potash producers’ earnings, including that of ICL.

“ICL is the most exposed, with over 20 percent of shipments going to India,” Jonathan Kreizman, a Tel Aviv based analyst at Clal Finance Brokerage Ltd., said by phone.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. said last week it will extend cuts in potash output as buyers of the crop nutrient delay purchases.

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