Israeli Edge For Southern?

Southern Energy Inc., a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., has teamed up with an Israeli labor union to acquire a big stake in state-owned Israel Electric Corp., says IEC union leader Yoram Oberkovitz. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced plans to sell 49% of the company. Analysts figure IEC may be worth $13 billion, making it Israel's biggest privatization.

Under a one-year agreement, Southern and the union would negotiate to buy control of IEC. The union picked Southern after running a beauty contest with possible partners. Southern may have had the edge, say industry sources, because it is represented locally by lawyer David Shimron, a Netanyahu confidant.

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