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Arison in deal to sell 49 percent of Bank Hapoalim's major shareholder

Arison in deal to sell 49 percent of Bank Hapoalim's major shareholder
September 24, 2017

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Billionaire Shari Arison has signed a non-binding agreement to sell 49 percent of Arison Holdings, through which she holds a controlling 20 percent stake in Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, to financial institutions in North America.

Arison’s 20 percent share in Hapoalim, Israel’s biggest bank, is valued at 6.5 billion shekels (£1.3 billion).

The price will be calculated according to Arison Holdings’ equity, based on a valuation for Hapoalim of 24.82 shekels a share, Arison Holdings said on Sunday. Arison said there was no certainty that a deal, which requires approval from the Bank of Israel, will be completed.

The potential buyers - two financial institutions and one investment group - do not yet have any strategic investments in Israel. They would enter the controlling shareholder group in Hapoalim as long-term strategic investors.

“Once the transaction will be completed, we will act together with our new partners, and with the bank’s management and employees, to enhance responsible long-term growth, for the benefit of all stakeholders, customers, and the Israeli market,” Arison Holdings said in a statement.

The Arison family has controlled Hapoalim for two decades. Arison’s father Ted, who made his fortune as founder of Carnival Cruise Line, was part of a consortium that bought control of the bank from the government. Arison, Israel’s wealthiest woman, has since bought out her partners.

Hapoalim’s shares were up 1.8 percent at 24.55 shekels at midday in Tel Aviv. Hapoalim is embroiled in an investigation by US.