bank leumi 88.
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The banks' drive to comply with the Bachar reforms continued apace Sunday, with Bank Leumi saying it would sell Leumi Gemel in two separate deals for a total of NIS 1.15 billion. Also, Bank Hapoalim said it was in talks to sell funds that manage NIS 22b. in assets.
The common denominator linking one of the Leumi deals and the Hapoalim deal was Solomon Investments. In partnership with investment company Markstone Capital Group, Solomon has agreed to pay NIS 473 million for Leumi Gemel funds that manage assets worth NIS 13.9b. Solomon is also in talks to buy Bank Hapoalim's provident funds, already having agreed in October to buy Poalim Mutual Funds (PKN) for NIS 955m.
Leumi is selling the Gemel assets that Solomon-Markstone is not buying to Harel Insurance Investments for NIS 675m. The deal includes the Otzma and Taoz funds and Gemel's management company, with the total assets under management worth NIS 16.3b. In September, Leumi agreed to sell Leumi Pia to Harel for NIS 535m.
The sale of Leumi Gemel comes after a one-day tender process that closed last Monday evening. The tender included Leumi's wholly-owned funds unit Psagot Ofek, though the bank hasn't disclosed the identity of the winning bidder for the subsidiary. Last Tuesday, Africa-Israel Investments said it bid for the unit in partnership with a company controlled by Lev Leviev, who also owns Africa-Israel. Financial details of the bid weren't provided.
Leumi and Hapoalim are selling the funds in compliance with the Bachar reforms, which the Knesset passed in July and obligate the banks to sell their interests in mutual and provident funds. With the deal to sell Pia to Harel, Leumi was the first bank to start implementing the law. It already has sold its 18.2 percent stake in Direct Insurance Financial Investments to Zur Shamir Holdings for NIS 116m.
In buying the funds, Solomon is aiming to become one of the leading financial companies in Israel, a source close to the situation said. Should it complete all the deals it is involved with, Solomon will have acquired funds that manage assets worth over NIS 50b.
"Solomon wants to build the biggest investment house in Israel and is exploiting the market situation after the Bachar reforms in order to carry out its aims," the source said.
At the end of October, parent company Solomon Investment & Consultancy agreed to sell 60% of Solomon Investments to Markstone and 20% to Tao Tsuot for NIS 125 per share. This gave the unit a market capitalization of NIS 175m., making the 60% worth NIS 105m. and the 25% worth NIS 43.75m.
The market welcomed news of the deals. Shares in Solomon Investment & Consultancy soared 18% to NIS 18.65. Leumi shares closed up 1.9% at NIS 16.44, Hapoalim shares rose 2.4% to NIS 19.74 and Harel rose 2.3% to NIS 203.60.
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