Scailex Corp. said it may conclude an agreement to sell most of its stake in Partner Communications Co., Israel’s second-largest phone company, to Saban Capital Group Inc. “in hours.”
Saban will pay cash for the stake and will assume a $300 million debt Scailex owes to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., Scailex said in a regulatory filing today, without saying how much cash Saban will pay. Partner shares headed to the highest level in more than six months.
“The talks are very advanced and the company estimates that an accord between parties for the deal will be signed in coming hours,” Herzliya Pituach-based Scailex said.
The agreement would bring billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who made his fortune with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, back to the Israeli telecommunication scene. Saban’s FSBR Group, together with Moshe Arkin and Apax Partners LLP, agreed to sell their stake in Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. to 012 Smile Communications Ltd. for $1.8 billion in October 2009.
Partner shares rose 4.1 percent to 24.65 shekels, the highest close since May 14, in Tel Aviv. Scailex shares jumped 27 percent to 7.826 shekels and have gained 73 percent since the company said Nov. 21 they were in “advanced talks” with Saban.
The agreement will give Saban a 33 percent stake in the mobile-phone operator after paying about 250 million shekels ($65 million) in cash, Calcalist reported today without saying how it obtained the information.
“You are bringing into Partner a strong owner with a proven track record at Bezeq and the deal will remove the shadow of Hutchison debt from Scailex and inject much needed cash,” Richard Gussow, a senior analyst at Tel Aviv-based DS Securities & Investments Ltd., said today by phone.
Scailex, controlled by Israeli entrepreneur Ilan Ben Dov via Suny Electronics Ltd., has been trying to sell a stake in Partner to help service 1.5 billion shekels of debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield on Scailex’s 5.1 percent bonds maturing in October 2015 dropped 313 basis points, or 3.13 percentage points, to 15.55 percent.
Standard & Poor’s Maalot said in October “there is a risk” that Scailex won’t meet its near-term debt commitments, reiterating its ilCC rating on the company, the second-worst junk rating.