Sources inform ''Globes'' that Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) controlling shareholder Ilan Ben-Dov is trying to sell the company's cellular sites and lease them back. Saban Capital Group, which is in talks to acquire control of Partner, knows of the intention, which is aimed at consolidating the other mobile carriers into a joint network or to enable wide collaboration at cellular sites.
Lazard Freres has been mentioned as the investment bank to handle the sale. The bank has worked with Ben-Dov to find a buyer for Orange franchisee Partner. Under the buy and lease-back model, which is used in other countries, the buyer of the cellular sites will lease them to the operator under long-term leases. With sites owned by another company, it will be easier to recruit other mobile carriers to use the sites in collaboration. The sale of the sites will also help the carriers with the regulator, because they will only be cooperating with the cellular sites' owner.
The move to sell the use agreement to the cellular sites is due to the mobile sector's great crisis as a result of the growing competition and the need to cut operating costs. In many countries, the regulator allows mobile carriers to consolidate networks, and even urges them to cooperate on sites in order to reduce the number of sites under public pressure.
In Israel, however, an absurdity has emerged, under with the Ministry of Communications requires new operators to set up their own nationwide networks. This means that Golan Telecom Ltd. and HOT Mobile Ltd. both need to establish thousands of sites to meet the requirements of their licenses. This also causes great environment damage from the vast numbers of cellular antennas throughout the land.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 15, 2012
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