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Partner Falls as Doubts on Hutchison Acquisition Dim Outlook

Partner Communications Co., Israel’s second-largest mobile-phone provider, slid in U.S. trading on speculation a deal that would make Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. its largest shareholder won’t be approved.

Shares of Partner slumped 4.7 percent to $4.47 in New York. The company’s Tel Aviv-traded stock retreated 4.6 percent to 17.45 shekels, or the equivalent of $4.51, at the close in Israel today.

Hutchison, the Hong Kong-based company owned by billionaire Li Ka-Shing, said June 5 it would pay $125 million for 75 percent of Scailex Corp., which owns a 44.5 percent stake in Partner. Completion of the deal is subject to regulatory and other approval and Scailex buying back at least 50 percent of its bonds, according to Hutchison. Partner said today it intends to participate in a plan to start a multichannel television operator that would compete with existing players.

“The stock market is pretty sure the deal is not going to take place and that’s a bit scary for the future of Partner,” Eran Jacoby, head of research at DS Securities & Investments Ltd., said by phone from Tel Aviv today. “The TV announcement isn’t positive because investors don’t think the company has enough capital to invest in that market.”

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