International entities want to acquire Bank Leumi, according to Accountant General Nir Gilad.
Speaking at the annual conference of the commercial banking sector held yesterday at Tel Aviv University, Gilad explained to TheMarker that selling up to 16% of the bank on the capital market means that the seller is willingly giving up 10% to 15% control premium, which the seller should have received. "This means that the price factor in the decision-making process is secondary," Gilad noted.
Gilad said that the structure of the offering involved several conflicts. "We think that in the offering structure we are building, we have created a mechanism to sell both shares and options. We still haven't decided exactly how many we'll sell, legislation regarding the control issue hasn't yet been amended, but the demand for the instrument we are creating shows us no problem is expected. So far we have been approached by international entities that want to make a financial acquisition of Leumi shares at tens of millions of dollars," Nir said.
Asked whether current market share prices, the lowest in the last three years, do not lead to second thoughts and to the view that it might be better to wait, Gilad said it's impossible to know when is the right timing. "The present market value isn't deterring us, but it will be expressed in the volume of shares we sell."
Regarding the present move where a bloc of shares is to be sold but not to a controlling group, Gilad said it is innovative and the treasury has to determine the moves that will lead to the change. He said that the Marani committee is preparing amendments to the bank licensing law, and is also preparing amendments to bank management regulations. Gilad said this legislation won't be completed before the current sale of Bank Leumi shares, but the treasury wants to introduce its details in the prospectus to be published.