US-based multinational private equity, alternative asset management, and financial services firm Blackstone Group is considering buying control in Israeli credit card company Isracard (TASE: ISCD), sources inform "Globes." The potential move comes as Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) has announced that it is distributing as a dividend in kind to its shareholders its remaining 33% stake in the credit card company.
Blackstone and former Paz Oil Company Ltd. (TASE:PZOL) CEO Yona Fogel took an interest in Isracard even before Hapoalim's dividend announcement last week, and even submitted a bid to the bank, which was higher than Isracard's market price.
Blackstone will now need to buy shares from several shareholders in order to reach the 30% threshold for the controlling core of the credit card company. Blackstone will also need a permit from the Bank of Israel's Supervisor of Banks.
One of Blackstone's targets will be Bank Hapoalim's largest shareholder Shari Arison who also has a 5.2% stake in Isracard. The Phoenix Holdings Ltd. (TASE: PHOE1;PHOE5) has a 7.6% stake in Isracard.
Isracard has a 47% market share in Israel's credit card market with annual use totaling over NIS 160 billion. Under new regulations separating Israel's banks and credit card companies Hapoalim is being forced to sell its control of Isracard and it floated the company on the TASE last April.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 12, 2020
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