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Hot Drops on Partner’s Low-Cost Wireless Brand: Tel Aviv Mover

Hot Telecommunication System Ltd., which started offering wireless services in May, fell to the lowest in almost three weeks after Partner Communications Co. said it plans to set up a low-cost wireless brand.

Shares of Yakum, Israel-based Hot, which also provides Internet, fixed-line and cable-television services, dropped as much as 5.8 percent to 33.50 shekels before closing at 34.80 shekels, the lowest since May 31. Partner declined 2.7 percent to 17.12 shekels, the lowest since April 2. The benchmark TA-25 index lost 0.3 percent to 1,078.77.

Competition in telecommunications intensified after the government forced providers to cut fees and encouraged new players to enter the market. Partner will offer wireless services through a unit under the Mobile 012 brand, the company said in an e-mailed statement today.

“The market is entering a position in which it may be harder for the newcomers to survive,” Ori Licht, head of research at I.B.I.-Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd. “Partner is going on the attack and this will make it harder for the newcomers to increase the number of new subscribers.”

Golan Telecom Ltd. and Hot said in May they’d start offering unlimited mobile-phone services, competing with packages of Cellcom Israel Ltd., Partner and Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., which provides wireless services via a unit. Hot acquired MIRS Communications Ltd. last year to compete in the cellular services market.

Partner, Cellcom and Bezeq together control 95 percent of the telecommunications market, according to Communications Ministry data. They’ve lowered prices and subsidized handsets to compete with new providers. Bezeq slipped 0.9 percent to 4.29 shekels, while Cellcom fell 0.7 percent to 26.61 shekels, the lowest in a week.

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