bank leumi 298 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
IDB Holdings Corp., controlled by Nochi Dankner, said Thursday it may bid in the government program to sell its shares in Bank Leumi.
"We are considering participation in the sale," IDB said in a statement. "However, we have not yet reached a final decision on the matter, or whether other companies will join us in the bid."
Sources close to the company said that if IDB does buy the shares, it won't be more than a 5 percent holding due to anti-trust requirements that would force it to sell off its shares in Clal Betucha, if took a larger stake in Leumi. With its 51% stake in Clal, this is not something IDB is prepared to do, the source added.
The government, which holds 24.78% of Leumi, plans to sell 9.99% of the company's shares and an option to buy another 10.01%, while it also intends to divide about 4% up among the employees, leaving the government with less than 1%.
These restrictions mark the second time this year that Dankner has been given conditional permission to participate in a government privatization after being forced to withdraw from the Bezeq tender in March because of his holdings in Cellcom. Dankner responded by spending approximately $1.35 billion to increase IDB subsidiary Discount Investment's stake in Cellcom to 95%.
Last month, IDB unit Super-Sol took control of indebted supermarket chain Clubmarket, agreeing to pay close to NIS 1b. for the company.
Meanwhile, others who have expressed interest in buying the Leumi shares include a group of British investors and Shlomo Eliahu who, as the bank's biggest private shareholder with a 10% stake, has said he would be interested in forming a consortium to participate in any government tender.
The government has given interested parties until November 7 to submit their bids for Leumi.
The tender is the last stage of the privatization of Bank Leumi, whose shares the government started selling in 1993.