While Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett is pushing ahead with the initial public offering (IPO) of a 25% stake in Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now decided that the time is not ripe. Following yesterday's report in "Globes" about Bennett's support for the IPO despite opposition from IAI's workers committee, the Prime Minister's Office today announced that, "IAI's management raised the topic with the prime minister and there was a preliminary discussion on the matter. The prime minister decided that continuation of the process will be carried out in coordination with the workers committee and in cooperation with it - as happened with previous IPOs."
Political sources believe that the prime minister's unexpected backing of the workers committee is not coincidental and comes several days before the Likud leadership primaries, which take place on Thursday.
Chairman of the Likud Central Committee Haim Katz is a former head of IAI's workers committee and his son Yair Katz is currently head of IAI's workers committee. Both father and son have voiced their support for Gideon Sa'ar in the Likud leadership contest.
A source close to the IAI IPO process said, "It will be interesting to see if after the internal elections in the Likud, the prime minister's position on IAI's workers remains the same or changes. Every Likudnik knows that before elections you don't anger Likud voters."
IAI has 15,000 employees and estimates are that 50% of them are registered Likud party voters, most of them following the many years of involvement of Haim Katz. Netanyahu met with Yair Katz last week in an effort to stop the loss of votes to Sa'ar on Thursday but Katz refused to divulge what was said in the meeting.
Following "Globes" report yesterday of Bennett's support for an IPO of a 25% stake in IAI, Yair Katz reiterated his opposition to the plan today and proposed that Bennett should first visit IAI to discuss the matter before making decisions."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 23, 2019
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018