Consortium ups stake in Bezeq Israel Telecom by 11%

Apax Partners, Saban Capital Group and Mori Arkin have upped their stake in the privatised telecom company. The investor group acquired a 30 percent stake in Bezeq in 2005.

A private equity consortium including Apax Partners, Saban Capital Group, the Los Angeles-based firm founded by media entrepreneur Haim Saban, and local businessman Mori Arkin have purchased an additional 10.7 percent of the shares of Bezeq Israel Telecom for Shk1.1 billion ($331 million; €228 million), PEO has confirmed.

The consortium acquired a 30 percent stake in the formerly government-owned telecom in 2005 in a transaction valued at Shk4.23 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, Arkin held 10 percent of the stake, while Apax and Saban Capital Group held 45 percent each. The group was given four years to exercise its option to increase its stake in Bezeq.

The privatisation was Israel’s largest since the late 1990s, when global economic problems and worsening tensions with the Palestinians led to a decline in privatisations.

The Apax consortium beat a rival bid led by Whitepoint Communications, a US investment vehicle run by former Packard Bell chief executive Beny Alagem, according to press reports. This consortium included two Los Angeles based firms, Canyon Capital and Clarity Partners, and Israeli insurer Phoenix. Whitepoint’s final bid was reportedly $872 million.

UK private equity firm Apax is in advanced negotiations with three sovereign wealth funds to sell a 10 percent stake in itself. The three prospective investors are The Australia Government Future Fund, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and an unnamed Japanese firm.