JERUSALEM, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Discount Investment Corp joined the race to take control of Israel’s largest telecom group, Bezeq, with an offer on Monday to buy its ailing parent company Eurocom for more than 1 billion shekels ($290 million).
Discount, which would have to sell its mobile operator unit Cellcom to win regulatory approval for the deal, will now compete with two other bidders.
A group led by U.S.-Israeli businessman Naty Saidoff made an offer to buy Eurocom in January, and Israeli media has widely reported that another bid that came from a private group that includes Neuman brothers from Israel.
Eurocom’s chairman, Shaul Elovitch, who is being investigated by Israeli authorities for possible fraud and financial reporting offences, is under pressure to sell Eurocom, which is laden with nearly 1 billion shekels in debt. Elovitch has denied any wrongdoing.
Discount said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange it was prepared to pay 375 million shekels for smaller units controlled by Eurocom, including Enlight Renewable Energy .
Within the following six months it would inject an additional 700 million shekels into Eurocom, which controls Bezeq with a 26 percent stake, in exchange for bonds that could be converted into Eurocom shares.
During this time, depending on approval by Israel’s antitrust authority, Discount said it would sell its shares in Cellcom.
Discount is a subsidiary of holding company IDB Development Corp, whose controlling shareholder is Argentinian businessman Eduardo Elsztain.
$1 = 3.4416 shekels Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, editing by Louise Heavens