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After failing to win control of Bank Leumi last week, Lev Leviev is trying to buy its wholly owned mutual and provident funds unit Psagot Ofek.
Africa-Israel Investments, which Leviev controls, said on Tuesday that in partnership with another Leviev-owned company, it made a bid for Psagot Ofek and for the operations and assets of its units. Africa-Israel didn't provide financial details of the offer.
Leumi opened a tender on Sunday to sell almost all of its mutual and provident funds, and Psagot Ofek and potential investors had until 8 p.m. on Monday to bid for the operations, which manage assets worth more than NIS 60 billion in total. Leumi's funds manage NIS 34b., Psagot manages NIS 20b., and Ofek manages more than NIS 5b.
A Leumi spokesman said the bank had received several offers but declined to provide further details other than to say that the bank had no fixed timetable for publishing the results of the bidding.
This is because there was no fixed format for the tender and bidders were able to take a "pick-and-mix approach" by offering to buy any number of different assets.
Leumi is selling the businesses 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 percent stake in Direct Insurance Financial Investments to Zur Shamir Holdings for NIS 116 million and has agreed to sell Leumi Pia to Harel Insurance Investments for NIS 535m.
On Monday last week, Leviev took part in a tender to buy from the government a 9.99% stake in Leumi and an 18-month option to buy another 10.01%. However, he lost out to US-based Barnea Investments, which is a consortium made up of US investment firms Cerberus Capital Management and Gabriel Capital. They bid NIS 2.47b., and should they take up the option they will own 20% of Leumi, which is considered to be a controlling stake by the Bank of Israel.
If Africa-Israel wins the tender for Psagot Ofek, it will mark its entry into the financial sector. The company already has interests in a number of different industries, including in construction, rental property, infrastructure, hotels, energy and fashion. In addition, Leviev has extensive diamond interests around the world.
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