Haim Saban in talks to buy mobile carrier Partner

Saban is considering a several stage acquisition of Ilan Ben-Dov's 44.5% stake in the Orange franchisee.

Haim Saban is in talks to buy a controlling stake in Orange franchisee Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) from Ilan Ben-Dov. Talks to buy the wireless carrier have been conducted since the deal in which Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (HKSE: 0013) was to acquire Partner broke down. However, sources close to the latest deal say that many details still have to be agreed.

In any event, in the latest proposed deal, Ben-Dov will remain a shareholder in Partner. The deal would be carried out with Saban buying shares in several stages and injecting capital into the wireless carrier. Sources close to Ben-Dov say that talks will continue throughout this week.

"Globes" reported last March that Ben-Dov's associates had offered Saban the opportunity to buy Partner, probably via an investment bank. Saban has been involved in Israel's telecom market in the past through a very successful investment in Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ), and he intends once again investing in Israel.

On paper Ben-Dov has lost more than NIS 1 billion on his investment in Partner after the company's share price has plunged over the past 18 months. Ben-Dov holds a 44.5% stake in Partner through Scailex Corporation (TASE: SCIX; Pink Sheets:SCIXF) at a company value of $832.7 million.

Successful investment in Bezeq

Saban, 67, earned NIS 1 billion when he acquired a controlling core in the company together with Apax Partners and Mori Arkin in 2005, and sold it three years later to Shaul Elovitch. Since then, Saban has not made any significant investments in Israel and he has focused on his global television operations.

Saban was born in Alexandria in Egypt and immigrated to Israel when he was 13 with his Turkish-born parents Nissim and Virginia.

Saban emerged in the US as a successful TV series producer and his best known program was Power Rangers.Ten years ago he sold his TV business Saban Entertainment to Disney for $1.7 billion and acquired the largest Spanish-language TV network in the US Univision Communications for $13.7 billion.

Saban is a major donor to Israeli organizations and one of the largest financial supporters of the US Democrat party.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 14, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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