Leumi sells mutual and provident funds operations

Will ask potential investors to make offers for the operation, valued at over NIS 60b.

By YIGAL GRAYEFF
November 22, 2005 06:01
3 minute read.
bank leumi 88

bank leumi 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Bank Leumi has started the process of selling almost all its remaining mutual and provident funds businesses by asking potential investors to make offers for the operations, which manage more than NIS 60b. in assets. The investors received the request from Leumi on Sunday and had until 8 p.m. on Monday to submit offers for its funds and for its wholly-owned unit Psagot Ofek, a bank spokesman said. Leumi's funds manage NIS 34b. in assets, Psagot manages NIS 20b., and Ofek manages more than NIS 5b. However, one holding Leumi is not selling yet is its two-thirds ownership of provident funds company Kahal, as it hasn't agreed a price with Israel Discount Bank, which owns the other third. Kahal manages assets worth NIS 10.3b. The spokesman didn't provide names of potential bidders but said that there was some interest from abroad, and although investors had little time to submit their offers, Leumi has no fixed time-table for completing the sale. "It may take a few days to assess the bids, and just because the investors have to submit their offers by 8 p.m. on Monday, this doesn't mean the process will be finished by Tuesday morning," the spokesman said. This is because there is no fixed format for the tender and bidders can take a "pick-and-mix approach" by offering to buy any number of different assets. Leumi is selling the assets in compliance with the Bachar reforms, which the Knesset passed into law in July and which require the banks to sell their interests in mutual and provident funds. Leumi was the first bank to start implementing the law and has already sold its 18.2% stake in Direct Insurance Financial Investments to Zur Shamir Holdings for NIS 116m. and has agreed to sell Leumi Pia to Harel Insurance Investments for NIS 535m. In addition to its mutual and provident funds interests, Leumi has to sell its holdings in two of the three conglomerates in which it has significant stakes. The bank has until the end of September next year to divest its 18.4% in Israel Corp., its 15.8% in Africa Israel Investments, or its 19.9% in Migdal Insurance Holdings. It anyway has to reduce its stake in Migdal to 10%, in compliance with the Bachar reforms. While Leumi has been busy selling its mutual and provident funds interests, it is also in the process of being privatized. Last week, the government said it was selling a 20% stake in Leumi to US-based Barnea Investments, which is a consortium made up of US investment firms Cerberus Capital Management and Gabriel Capital. The two firms have agreed to pay NIS 2.47b. to acquire a 9.99% stake in Leumi and an 18-month option to buy another 10.01%. Should it exercise the option, Barnea would own 20%, which is considered to be a controlling stake by the Bank of Israel.

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