With TheMarker

Shrugging off objections to the sale by the Finance Ministry, Bank Hapoalim (TASE:POLI) said today it wants to fast-track talks to buy Israel Discount Bank of New York from Israel Discount Bank (TASE:DSCT).

The Finance Ministry has said it objects to Discount, which is controlled by the state, selling its New York outfit, its prime asset. Its objection is based on the subsequent difficulty Israel would encounter in privatizing the bank.

Hapoalim today announced its intentions to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. It said it is willing to pay a price that reflects two main components: the bank's equity, and a control premium.

Hapoalim wants to merge Discount New York with its own U.S. operations, subject to the requisite approvals of the relevant boards, and due diligence.

Finance Minister Silvan Shalom's goal of selling the entire Discount group in toto, including its New York operations, is irrelevant, Hapoalim points out: nobody's bidding for it at this stage.