Zap Group, which owns consumer information and price comparison websites in Israel such as Zap, Yellow Pages, and Rest, has finally found a new owner. The Apax Partners private equity firm, headed in Israel by Zehavit Cohen, is buying Zap Group for NIS 140-150 million. Several possible buyers for Zap Group have been mentioned over the past year, among them Axel Springer (which bought Israeli classified sales site Yad2), and FIMI.
Sources at Zap Group confirmed that Apax's bid was the only one under discussion, after the deadline for bids for buying the group's shares from the investment institutions that hold them had been postponed time after time.
Once the deal is closed, Apax's first task will be to appoint a permanent CEO at Zap Group. In late January this year, Nir Lempert, who had been CEO of the company for nine years, announced that he was leaving. Since then, Sigal Sharoni has served as temporary CEO.
Zap Group has had a turbulent year. Apart from the over-prolonged matter of settling the group's ownership, there was a protest by its employees against their treatment by the management. In April 2014, they began to unionize in the Histadrut Leumit, and only after a lengthy campaign did the management under Sharoni recognize the union in March this year.
The main shareholders in Zap Group are Menorah Mivtachim Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MORA) (20%), Psagot Investment House Ltd. (11%), Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd. (TASE: CLIS) (10%), Meitav Investment House Ltd. and Excellence Investments Ltd. (TASE: EXCE) (7% each). The investment institutions received control of Zap Group in 2009, after the company notified them that it could not meet liabilities of some NIS 500 million.
For Apax Partners and Cohen, this is a second deal within six weeks. In mid-April, the private equity fund announced the purchase of control (80%) in catering company Schulz. That deal is estimated to have taken place at a valuation of NIS 60-70 million.
Apax recently posted a profit of NIS 3.5 billion on the sale of its stake in Israeli food company Tnuva to Chinese company Bright Food for NIS 4.78 billion.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 31, 2015
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