Netanyahu opposes Cellcom-Golan Telecom deal

Golan was one of the new players to enter the market following reforms that lead to dramatic drops in the price of cellular services.

November 22, 2015 20:55
1 minute read.
Israeli espionage

Shadowy figure uses cell phone (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will oppose the proposed sale of Golan Telecom to Cellcom, channel 2 reported Sunday, citing comments made in closed-door meetings.

Netanyahu does not have the authority to approve or block a deal as prime minister, but he currently holds the communications ministry portfolio, which has some power to intervene. Netanyahu also holds the economy portfolio,  which houses the independent anti-trust authority, which could block the sale as well.  There is currently no commissioner leading the anti-trust authority.

The previous commissioner, David Gilo, stepped down in August in protest of a plan to regulate Israel's natural gas deal, which Netanyahu backed.

Finance minister Moshe Kahlon has said that his ministry, too, has the power to block the deal.

Some market analysts believe that the telecom market in Israel is too crowded, and that one way or another, it will consolidate.

Golan was one of the new players to enter the market following reforms Kahlon pushed through when he was communications minister. The reforms led to dramatic drops in the price of cellular services, to the delight of consumers and the horror of investors who held stock in Cellcom, Orange and Pelephone, the legacy companies they dominated the market before.

Officials opposing the sale fear that it would decrease the intense competition, and lead to a jump in cellular prices.

According to Channel 2, Netanyahu said the Michael Golan, the company's CEO, had not lived up to his obligations. That decision, they said, left the deal effectively dead.

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