BENJAMIN NETANYAHU and finance minister Moshe Kahlon..
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will oppose the proposed sale of Golan Telecom to Cellcom, Channel 2 reported Sunday, citing comments made in closed-door meetings.
Netanyahu does not have the authority to approve or to block a deal as prime minister, but he currently holds the Communications Ministry portfolio, which has some power to intervene. Netanyahu also holds the Economy Ministry portfolio, which houses the independent Israel Antitrust Authority, which could block the sale as well.
There is currently no commissioner leading the Antitrust Authority.
The previous commissioner, David Gilo, stepped down in August in protest of a plan to regulate Israel’s natural gas deal, which Netanyahu backed.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has said that his ministry, too, has the power to block the deal.
Some market analysts believe that the telecoms market in Israel is too crowded, and that one way or another, it will consolidate.
Golan was one of the new players to enter the market following reforms Kahlon pushed through when he was communications minister.
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The reforms led to dramatic drops in the price of cellular services, to the delight of consumers and the horror of investors who held stock in Cellcom, Orange and Pelephone, the legacy companies that dominated the market.
Officials opposing the sale fear it would decrease the intense competition, and lead to a jump in cellular prices.
According to Channel 2, Netanyahu said the Michael Golan, the company’s CEO, had not lived up to his obligations.
That decision, they said, left the deal effectively dead.
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