Gabbay leads bid for Partner after quitting Cellcom

Avi Gabbay  credit: Cadya Levy

Avi Gabbay has taken the strategic decision to own an Israeli telecom company rather than just manage one.

After "Globes" revealed that outgoing Cellcom Israel Ltd. (OTC:CELJF; TASE:CEL) CEO Avi Gabbay had tried and failed to acquire the company, it has become clear that the he has taken the strategic decision to own a telecom company rather than just manage one.

Gabbay has accepted an offer to head a group of investors interested in acquiring Cellcom's Israeli telecom rival Partner Communications Co. Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE:PTNR) and thus decided to quit Cellcom. In the investment group bidding for Partner are several capital market bodies as well as Shlomo Rodav and Mori Arkin. 

Partner was put up for sale several months ago by its controlling shareholder Hutchison Group, which is currently holding talks on the matter with US investment firm Apollo Global Management. There is no certainty that these talks will succeed although sources close to the matter estimate that there is a more than 50% chance of a deal. But it may be that the dealys in this deal are due to interest from other parties.

Battles with Cellcom controlling shareholders

It also emerged that the background to Gabbay's resignation from Cellcom is that brothers Michael and Daniel Salkind and Tzahi Nahmias, the controlling shareholders in Discount Investment, which controls Cellcom, did not like what they saw as Gabbay's excessive independence and the fact that were not as involved in running the company as they expected. The shareholders apparently did not attempt to persuade Gabbay to change his mind.

This morning "Globes" learned that Gabbay, who knew that the controlling shareholders did not intend to keep their holding in Cellcom for the long term, put together a proposal to buy Cellcom together with a financial institution, but was rebuffed. This seems to have begun the crack in relations between Gabbay and the owners, and it became clear that the relationship could not last long, as Gabbay continued to display independence and to maintain the line he followed since taking up his post, namely that he was the main decision maker at Cellcom.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 21, 2021.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2021.

Avi Gabbay  credit: Cadya Levy
Avi Gabbay credit: Cadya Levy
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