Gov't denies Cerberus extension on Leumi

The Israeli government, which currently holds the shares, decided not to extend Cerberus-Gabriel's option beyond the May 24 deadline, Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan said Monday.

By ALISA ODENHEIMER, BLOOOMBERG
May 22, 2007 07:25

Cerberus-Gabriel, a partnership of two New York buyout funds, won't receive an extension of its option to buy control of Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. making it likely the bank will be put on the auction bloc again. The Israeli government, which currently holds the shares, decided not to extend Cerberus-Gabriel's option beyond the May 24 deadline, Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan said Monday. "The significance is that the bank will be put up for sale again," Alon Glazer, an analyst at Leader & Co. in Tel Aviv, said in a phone interview. "The share is rising on speculation that there will be a competition for control of the bank." Cerberus-Gabriel owns 10 percent of Leumi after winning a bidding competition in November 2005. It also got an option to buy an additional 10% from the government. The partnership of New York-based Cerberus Capital Management LP and Gabriel Capital Group bid NIS 2.74 billion for the Leumi stake. Glazer said that the government hadn't yet decided whether to sell control of the bank in a tender offer or on the stock exchange. "There were no circumstances that justified giving any extension at all," the government statement said.


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