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Partner Gains on Report Saban Bids for Shares: Tel Aviv Mover

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Partner Communications Co. rose the most in two months on bets a bid by Saban Capital Group Inc. to increase its stake in Israel’s second-largest mobile-phone provider will boost shares.

Partner’s shares advanced 7 percent to 22.94 shekels, the most since Oct. 14, at the market close in Tel Aviv on twice the three-month average daily volume and capping a four-day drop. The benchmark TA-25 equities index advanced 0.8 percent.

Scailex Corp., which holds a 44.54 percent of Partner, agreed to sell a 30.73 percent stake in the company to an Israeli unit of Saban, according to a filing to the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange on Nov. 30. TheMarker reported today that Saban is seeking to buy additional Partner shares from institutions and Leumi Partners Ltd., the investment arm of Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., and has offered to pay Leumi 25 shekels per share. Leumi holds a 4.99 percent stake in Partner, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The fact that Saban may be seeking to buy more shares in Partner could support the shares in the short term,” Ilanit Sherf, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd. said today by phone. “I think a price of 25 shekels per share will not satisfy Leumi and they will ask for more.”

The entrance of new mobile-telephone providers, Hot Telecommunication System Ltd. and Golan Telecom Ltd., has reduced Partner’s sales and prompted a 34 percent decline this year in its Tel Aviv-traded shares, making it the worst performing share this year after Cellcom Israel Ltd, the country’s largest mobile phone provider.

The U.S.-traded shares of Partner surged 12 percent $6.09 today at the market open. Partner’s 14-day relative strength index rose to 47 today, after dropping to 34 yesterday. A reading below 30 indicates to some analysts that a security is poised to gain.

Saban agreed to pay 250 million shekels ($66.6 million) in cash and assume a $300 million debt Scailex owes to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. The Asian holding company abandoned plans in August to become a Partner stakeholder. TheMarker reported that under the terms of the deal Saban needs to raise his stake in Partner to collateralize the shares against Hutchison’s loan.

Moshe Debby, a spokesman for Saban in Israel, declined to comment on the report.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net

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