US Investor Larry Mizel joins Benjamin exploration bidders

MDC Holdings has no experience in the oil and gas exploration business, but it has $1.78 billion in cash reserves.

A new foreign player has entered the Israeli offshore oil and gas exploration game. US businessman Larry Mizel has joined the race for the Benjamin exploration license through his company MDC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: MDC). Sources inform ''Globes'' that MDC applied for the license last week with the Natural Gas Authority at the Ministry of National Infrastructures.

Mizel's application is an achievement for the ministry, which has been seeking serious foreign investors and with substantial equity. Although, so far as is known, MDC has no experience in the oil and gas exploration business, it has $1.78 billion in cash reserves.

The sources added that Cassal Drilling Ltd. has applied for the Benjamin exploration license, bringing the number of bidders to five. The Natural Gas Authority will reportedly divide the 1,660-square kilometer license area into three separate licenses, which will facilitate the bids.

Mizel is chairman of MDC, which he founded in 1972. His salary in 2009 was $3.5 million. He is a co-founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in California a major donor to the institution.

Mizel may also be interested in acquiring the controlling core in Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT).

The bidders for the Benjamin license are: MDC; Cassal Drilling; Lapidoth Heletz LP. (TASE: LPHL), Zerah Oil And Gas Explorations LP (TASE: ZRAH), and Playtech Cyprus Ltd. (AIM:PTEC) controlling shareholder Teddy Sagi; Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L); and Modiin Energy LP (TASE:MDIN.L) with Israel Land Energy Ltd.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 24, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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