December 31, 2018 / 10:46 AM / 21 days ago

Israeli regulator to approve Leumi Card sale to Warburg Pincus

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel’s banking regulator said on Monday Warburg Pincus had been found to be “fit and proper” to buy Bank Leumi’s (LUMI.TA) credit card unit, paving the way for the deal to be completed.

Leumi, which owns 80 percent of Leumi Card, and property developer Azrieli Group (AZRG.TA), which holds 20 percent, announced in July they had agreed to sell the business to the U.S. private equity firm for 2.5 billion shekels ($666 million), subject to regulatory approval.

“We have already the finished review of Warburg Pincus and they are fit and proper to buy Leumi Card from the banking supervisor’s standpoint,” Supervisor of Banks Hedva Ber told a business conference. “We are going to recommend to the Bank of Israel governor to give them a license. The divestment is going ahead.”

Israeli regulators, in a bid to increase competition, have instructed the country’s top two banks, Hapoalim (POLI.TA) and Leumi, to sell off their credit card companies by early 2020.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer

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