Accountant General Nir Gilad today firmly denied press reports of government contacts to sell its holdings in

Israel Discount Bank

.

A report published in mid-July stated that the Jewish American family Nassimi together with other investors offered the treasury $500 million for 54% of Discount's equity.

The state owns 60% of Discount's shares.

IDB Holdings

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owns 13.2%.

Discount's market cap is $750 million. Its shares have gained 11% in the last three weeks.

The Finance Ministry said that the process of privatizing the bank will resume only after the ministry receives reports from the Bank of Israel and MI Holdings, the government company in charge of privatization, regarding changes in the sales process as recommended by MI Holdings.

Accountant General Nir Gilad also serves as the MI Holdings chairman.

Gilad said that the MI Holdings board will convene soon to finalize the recommendations in respect of Discount.

Discount is Israel's third biggest bank by market cap. It lost NIS 132 million in the first quarter of this year, after losing NIS 104 million for the year 2000.