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Bank Leumi in the next few days will announce the early retirement of 300 employees, TheMarker has learned.

The retirement plan will be offered to workers who have worked at the bank for at least 32 years, and to women 60 years old and up. The plan will not be offered to workers who were offered early retirement in the year 2000 retirement plan for women over 60, or to workers with a 35-year tenure in 2001.

The plan will be launched at the end of January, and go through March 13. Tailored to each employee, it will offer the option of a life long pension effective immediately, or special large cash bonuses. The bank's management told the workers that the financial benefit package offered will have them enjoying income close to what they would get if they were still working. Estimates are workers that opt to retire will enjoy retirement compensation 200% to 300% higher than usual.

Workers entitled to the plan will be assisted by a support system operated by experts from in and outside the bank, which currently employs 10,000 people. The bank confirmed the retirement plan has been offered as part of the bank's streamlining efforts.

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In November of 2001 the bank reported its Q3 profits were slashed to NIS 105 million, compared with a profit of NIS 321 million in the same quarter last year. In the first nine months of the year the bank's profit came to NIS 753 million, 42% less than in the same period the previous year.

The bank's equity at the end of Q3 2001 climbed 8% from December 2000, and at NIS 12.3 billion constituted 5.4% of the bank's balance.