TEL AVIV, March 20 (Reuters) - Real estate developer Azrieli Group swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, boosted by high occupancy rates at its properties in Israel and the United States and a rise in the value of its stake in Bank Leumi
Azrieli, which is controlled by Canadian businessman David Azrieli and has numerous investments in Israel including several shopping malls, said on Wednesday it had net profit of 369 million shekels ($100 million) compared with a loss of 129 million a year earlier. The loss was due to a rise in the tax liability in Israel as new regulations resulted in an increase in deferred taxes.
Net operating income, which reflects the group's core business, rose 7 percent to 275 million shekels.
A 16 percent rise in the share price of Leumi in the quarter also boosted its bottom line. Azrieli's 4.8 percent stake in Leumi increased in value by 100 million shekels net of taxes.
"These results, alongside the significant scope of investments and development, reflect the group's growth strategy, which focuses on the improvement of existing properties, initiation, construction and development of new income-producing properties and the seizing of business opportunities," said Shlomo Sherf, Azrieli's chief executive.
Azrieli will pay a quarterly dividend of 265 million shekels, up from 240 million the prior quarter.
Azrieli also owns Granite Hacarmel, which operates in the energy, paint and water sectors.
$1 = 3.69 shekels Reporting by Tova Cohen