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Bank Leumi Advances on Report Haim Saban May Purchase Stake

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March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. rose to the highest in almost a month after a local website reported investor Haim Saban and outgoing Leumi Chief Executive Officer Galia Maor may acquire a stake in the bank. The bank denied the report after the close of trading today.

The shares of Leumi, the country’s largest bank by assets, climbed 1.8 percent to 11.65 shekels, the highest since Feb. 23, at the 4:30 p.m. close in Tel Aviv.

“The shares are rising on the rumor that Saban might want to buy a stake in Leumi,” said Terence Klingman, senior analyst for international clients at Psagot Investment House Ltd. “I would not attach high value to the rumor.”

Israel’s News1 hebrew website reported Haim Saban, the chairman and chief executive officer of Saban Capital Group, together with investors may consider buying the 9.6 percent stake in Leumi that may be sold by businessman Shlomo Eliahu, after his acquisition of Migdal Insurance and Financial Holding Ltd. earlier this month.

At the time of the Migdal accord, Eliahu said he would need to reach an agreement with regulators about his stake in the bank.

“There is nothing to it,” Leumi said in an e-mailed statement after the close of trading today. Moshe Debby, a spokesman for Saban Capital Group in Israel, declined to comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shoshanna Solomon in Tel Aviv at ssolomon22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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