Azur frontrunner to buy Walla! from Bezeq

Eli Azur

Jerusalem Post and Maariv owner Eli Azur is in the leading position to buy the Israeli news website.

Israeli businessman Eli Azur has emerged as the leading candidate to buy Walla!, one of Israel's most popular news websites, from Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ).

Sources inform "Globes" that Bezeq and Azur have been in advanced negotiations for a protracted period. Azur, who owns the Jerusalem Post and Maariv newspapers and has a stake in some of Israel's leading sports channels and radio stations, is believed to be offering Bezeq about NIS 40-50 million for Walla!

Bezeq notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) back in May 2018 that it planned selling Walla! Bezeq was initially asking NIS 180 million - a price was that considered unrealistic. Azur was interested in acquiring Walla! from the outset but the gap between his offer and Bezeq's asking price made any progress in talks impossible.

Reshet Channel 13 conducted talks with Bezeq for Walla! before the TV station's dire economic situation halted any possibility of an acquisition. By then Bezeq's asking price had fallen to NIS 110 million, while Reshet had been prepared to pay NIS 60 million. Hot was also interested in Walla! at one stage.

Walla's value has been further eroded by the success of Keshet Channel 12's new digital news website N12, which has taken users away from Walla!, which is in need of investment.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on August 11, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

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