Internet Gold-Golden Lines Ltd. (IGLD) and B Communications Ltd. (BCOM), which both hold interests in Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp (BEZQ), advanced in Tel Aviv on bets shares in the fixed-line provider are cheap.
Internet Gold, which owns a stake in Bezeq via B Communications, rose 3.9 percent to 9.22 shekels, the highest since Aug. 19, at 12:50 p.m. in Tel Aviv. B Communications advanced 7.1 percent, the most since Aug. 7, to 12 shekels. Bezeq declined 0.8 percent to 4.554 shekels, trimming the gain since releasing second-quarter earnings on Aug. 2 to 12 percent.
French entrepreneur Patrick Drahi’s Cool Holding Ltd. on Aug. 26 offered to buy the remaining shares in competitor Hot Telecommunication System Ltd. (HOT) at a premium and said it intends to make the company closely held. Bezeq’s shares are trading at 6.3 times estimated earnings compared with 10.6 times for the TA-25 index and 13.5 times for the MSCI World/Telecommunication Services Index. (MXWO0TC)
“Investors think that if Drahi is taking Hot private it means the company is cheap, which may mean that Bezeq is also cheap,” Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at Excellence Nessuah Investment House Ltd., in Ramat Gan, Israel, said today by phone. “Bezeq’s second-quarter numbers were somewhat better than expected.”
Shares of Bezeq, whose second-quarter profit dropped 29 percent, have declined 33 percent this year after the government moved to increase competition in the wireless, fixed-line and television markets, in which the company is active.
The government is seeking to introduce a “wholesale” fixed-line market and a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, which would be set up by Israel Electric and a company to be selected, to compete with existing fixed-line operators. On July 15 a government panel postponed the deadline for submissions to choose an investor and controlling shareholder in the FTTH network.
“This is a make-or-break period for Bezeq,” said Alper. “If no investor is found for the FTTH network project, Bezeq will soar above 5 shekels. If an investor is found, it will be a whole new ballgame for Bezeq.”
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