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Cabinet approves economic concentration ideas
Our prime minister speaks at cabinet meeting 370.
The cabinet on Sunday approved the recommendations of the Committee on
Concentration in the Economy, which are intended to increase competition and
break up some of the country’s largest conglomerates. The vote was
unanimous.The cabinet instructed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to submit a
bill to the Ministerial Legislative Committee.“Today’s cabinet decision
is another step toward lowering the cost of living,” Netanyahu said. “The 100
Days Team emphasized the need to increase competition in the economy, and 18
months ago, this committee was established, the results of which will correct
distortions created in recent years, and this government is correcting
them.”Israel has one of the highest concentrations of corporate power in
the developed world, with the government estimating that the country’s 10
largest business groups control 41 percent of the market value of public
companies.Conglomerates will have to choose between owning major
financial or non-financial companies. Holding companies structured like pyramids
will have to limit how many tiers of subsidiaries they have.Existing
groups, which currently hold listed subsidiaries that in turn have their own
subsidiaries, will be allowed no more than three tiers of subsidiaries. New
conglomerates can have two.Companies will have four years to
comply. “For years, there was talk about restricting the cartels and
monopolies, but we’ve taken action,” Netanyahu said. “We have here a series of
very important recommendations. On one hand, daring, but on the other also
proportionate to ensure continued competitiveness of our economy and to lower
the cost of living.”According to the recommendations, companies cannot
hold a financial firm with assets above NIS 40 billion at the same time it
controls a non-financial company of more than NIS 6b. of revenue.As a
result, the IDB Group would have to divest Clal Insurance or other key holdings
such as Cellcom, the country’s largest cellphone operator.Delek Group
would have to decide between keeping insurance company Phoenix and brokerage
firm Excellence Nessuah or its fuel business, which includes a number of
offshore naturalgas fields.Private-equity firm Apax Partners would need
to choose between food maker Tnuva or the Psagot brokerage.
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