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Pedestrians are reflected in the windows of a branch of Bank Leumi, Israels second-largest lender, in Tel Aviv, Israel.(Photo by: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Warburg Pincus finalizes $700m. Leumi Card acquisition
By EYTAN HALON
03/05/2019
Based in Bnei Brak, Leumi Card has issued more than 2.6 million credit cards and offers merchant acquiring services to over 40,000 businesses.
Global private equity firm Warburg Pincus has completed the acquisition of leading Israeli credit card company Leumi Card in a deal worth NIS 2.5 billion, the companies announced Monday.

Leumi Card, one of only three major credit card companies in the Israeli market, has been under the ownership of Bank Leumi (80%) and the Azrieli Group (20%).

Following the receipt of a Bank of Israel permit to control the company last week, ownership of Leumi Card has effectively been transferred to the New York-based private equity firm.

As part of the deal, Warburg Pincus collaborated with three strategic partners: Menorah Mivtachim, Clal Insurance & Finance and Allied Group. Each partner will hold 5% of the company’s shares, while Menorah and Clal will further increase their holdings to 10% each once relevant regulatory approvals have been received.

Under a wider strategic restructuring process currently underway at Leumi Card, the company is soon expected to rebrand and change its name to “max.”

“Leumi Card is an excellent business that we hope to bring our global expertise to, and help build a true leader and innovator in the Israeli payments, and consumer and SME lending sectors,” said Daniel Zilberman, head of Europe and member of the Executive Management Group at Warburg Pincus.

“I am confident that our investment in Leumi Card will be of great benefit to the company’s customers and the State of Israel as a whole. Together, with the talented and very high-quality staff of the company, we will be able to create material benefit for the public in the areas of payments, credit and financing.”

Based in Bnei Brak, Leumi Card has issued more than 2.6 million credit cards and offers merchant acquiring services to over 40,000 businesses.

“Over the past year, we have laid the foundation for our separation from Bank Leumi, signed new operating with additional banks and new funding agreements, and this year we proved our capital raising capabilities in the Israeli market and earned extensive trust in the institutional market,” said Leumi Card CEO Ron Fainaro.

“We face a great and complicated administrative and marketing challenge, but also a great opportunity for the business to expand in directions that the company has been prevented from doing until now. We are no longer just a credit card company. Max will be a leading financial services company based on our advanced payment capabilities.”

Under the Increasing Competition in Banking Law passed by the Knesset in 2016, Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim were required to sell the credit card companies under their ownership by January 2020, or reduce their holdings to below 40% if the companies are issued on the stock exchange.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Bank Hapoalim is considering an initial public offering for its credit card business Isracart, the largest in Israel. The IPO could value the business at approximately $1 billion.

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