Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) has snubbed its offer from HOT Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: Hot) and approached Golan Telecom with a view to acquiring the rival telecom operator, sources inform "Globes." Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL) is already in talks to buy Golan Telecom and a bidding war could develop. Owned by Electra Consumer Products (TASE: ELEK), GolanTelecom has about 1 million subscribers and is profitable.
Golan Telecom shares a network with Cellcom, making it necessary to break up that partnership in any merger with Partner. Golan Telecom might also be required to pay a NIS 600 million fine to Cellcom, if a deal with Partner went ahead, making such a merger very tough to complete.
Partner's bid to buy Golan Telecom comes after a decision by its board of directors to explore all options following an offer by Hot to buy Partner.
The feeling at Partner is that it is better to acquire another company rather than to be acquired. Partner is in the midst of major investments and has a relatively small debt, making it worthwhile to grow at the exense of another company rather than vice-versa.
As a public company, Partner is required to respond formally to Hot's offer and that will probably happen in several weeks after other options are considered.
Partner's CEO is Isaac Benbenisti.
The Israel Competition Authority and Ministry of Communicatrions are only likely to approve one merger in the mobile phone sector due to the small number of players in the sectorand would be less inclined to sanction a merger between two of the biggest players like Hot and Partner.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 11, 2020
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