FIBI Holdings (TASE:FIBI) today notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that the Safra family has sold the controlling interest in the company. FIBI Holdings controls First International Bank of Israel (TASE:FTIN1;FTIN5).
Sources inform “Globes” that Zadik Bino and the Liberman family are the buyers.
The sale was probably related to the privatization of Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT ), which owns 26% of First International Bank. The cross ownership has blocked the privatization, since the Ministry of Finance demanded that the Safra family sell its holding in First International Bank if they wanted to buy Discount Bank or Israel Discount Bank of New York.
Prof. Yoram Eden recently valued First International Bank at 100% of its equity. The valuation was solely based on publicly available information, mainly the bank’s 2002 financial report, which stated a loss of NIS 66 million for the year.
In a statement to the press released later in the day, the purchasers said: "The Safra Banking Group and the Bino - Liberman Group today announced an agreement under which the Bino - Liberman Group will acquire Safra Group’s approximately 52% ownership interest in F.I.B.I. Holding Company Limited (“FIBI Holding”), the parent company of The First International Bank of Israel (“FIBI”), for US$90 Million cash. FIBI is the fifth-largest bank in Israel with approximately US$700 million of capital and over US$10 billion of assets. FIBI Holdings, in addition to The First International Bank of Israel, has other investments in the financial services sector as well as in non-banking activities in Israel.
"The transaction is part of Safra Banking Group’s ongoing strategy to focus on building its presence in major private banking markets, particularly the United States and Europe.
"Bino Holdings Ltd. (55%) and the Australian Liberman Family (45%), long-time partners in various Israeli investments, decided to execute this significant investment, in cash and from their own sources, in order to further diversify and establish a substantial presence in the financial sector, in addition to their current holdings and investments in energy and other sectors. The head of the group, Zadik Bino, is one of Israel’s most experienced bankers. In 25 years of activity in the banking sector, Mr. Bino served as CEO of both FIBI and Bank Leumi.
"Joseph Safra stated, “The Safra family has enjoyed a long and fruitful association with FIBI and we are proud of how the bank has built itself and of the efforts of all the people who work at FIBI. The Safra family remains active in Israel through its significant ownership of Cellcom and will evaluate other business opportunities in the country as appropriate.
"'The Safra Banking Group’s focus is private banking and our strategy is to grow in this business. In this regard, we have been expanding into those major markets where private banking best serves the needs of our clients, particularly in the United States and Europe. The FIBI transaction is consistent with this strategy, enabling us to further concentrate our efforts in these markets,' Mr. Safra said".
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on April 27, 2003