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Yes recruitment rate down to 6,000 a month

The recruitment rate of Yes has dropped to 6,000 a month, while the banks debate the fate of Israel's only satellite TV broadcaster's refinancing requests, TheMarker has learned.

The company's recruitment had previously dipped in March, to 12,000 subscribers a month, down 33% from its pace of enrollment in January and February. In those months the company signed up 18,000 subscribers a month, net after deducting people who deserted for the cable TV companies.

From April to July, the recruitment rate hovered at ten to 12 thousand a month.

Meanwhile, the cable TV companies report that the pace of desertion to Yes has diminished.

Industry sources note that some households are electing to desert both and settle for receiving only channels 1 and 2, which are both state-run and available using a simple antenna.

Yes chief executive Shlomo Liran said today that the recruitment rate complies with the company's new business plan, dating from July.

The company has changed focus from increasing its market share, at the expense of Israel's cable TV trio, to improving its profitability.

Liran reiterated that Yes foresees reaching 380,000 to 400,000 subscribers by year-end, climbing to a range of 440,000 to 475,000 by the end of 2003.

Meanwhile, Yes's bankers are expected to smile upon its financing plan, say sources in the banking industry. Its bankers Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI ), Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) and First International Bank of Israel (TASE: FIBI).

The banks' credit committees are looking at the alternatives, the source said. The banks have not reached agreement on the scope of credit to the company, or its time frame. But the banks are holding negotiations with representatives of Yes's shareholders.

To date, Leumi and Discount have each provided 40% of Yes's credit needs, with FIBI supplying the rest.

This week Ma'ariv reported that Bank Leumi's credit committee had decided to approve a three-year $150 million financing plan for Yes, subject to capital infusions from the shareholders.

Yes may receive interim financing until its credit future can be hashed out. In any case, fears that the company might go belly-up while the banks wrangled about its lifeline hav

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