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Leumi Drops Most in Week as Eliahu Sells Stake: Tel Aviv Mover

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Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. retreated the most this month after the country’s second-largest lender said businessman Shlomo Eliahu sold shares at a discount.

The stock fell as much as 2.4 percent before closing down 0.8 percent at 13.15 shekels in Tel Aviv. About 12 million shares changed hands, more than triple the three-month average volume, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Bank Leumi was the third-biggest decliner in percentage terms on the benchmark TA-25 Index, which advanced 0.5 percent and bringing this week’s gain to 2.8 percent.

Eliahu sold about 47 million shares at a price of 12.87 shekels, the bank said in a statement today. That’s 3 percent below yesterday’s closing price, and values the stake at around 606 million shekels ($170 million). Eliahu was asked by the Bank of Israel last October to sell his entire holding in the lender within three years after he agreed to acquire a majority stake in Migdal Insurance & Financial Holding Ltd.

“The shares are down because the stake was sold at a discount,” Micha Goldberg, an analyst at Excellence Investments Ltd. said by phone. “This is far from over as Eliahu will be looking to sell another 3.16 percent stake in the coming 18 months.”

Leumi shares have advanced about 3.8 percent this year, compared with a gain of 9 percent for the Tel Aviv Banking Index. The lender posted a quarter-on-quarter decline in profit in the three months through June 30 as corporate loan growth waned. Eliahu sold stakes in Leumi in March this year and October 2012.

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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