Israel's Delek sells insurer Phoenix to private equity firms

JERUSALEM, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Israel’s Delek Group said on Monday it completed the sale of 32.5% of insurer Phoenix Holdings for 1.57 billion shekels ($446 million) to private equity firms Centerbridge Partners and Gallatin Point Capital.

Of the total, 1.335 billion shekels was paid in cash.

A binding agreement for the sale was announced in May.

The deal could include an increase of up to 866 million shekels or a decrease of up to 196 million depending on issues like profits prior to the closing and changes in Phoenix’s share price. Delek said it arranged a five-year 235 million shekel loan to help fund the acquisition.

Delek, a partner in large offshore natural gas projects, is being forced to divest from Phoenix due to regulation that prohibits conglomerates from holding stakes in both financial and non-financial businesses.

Several previous deals Delek reached with potential buyers for Phoenix fell through due to concern by Israeli regulators over some foreign groups, namely from China, taking over the company. Phoenix is a leading manager of Israeli pension funds. ($1 = 3.5224 shekels) (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch Editing by Steven Scheer)