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Bezeq raised $100m from consortium of foreign and Israeli banks

Proceeds of deal, underwritten by Citibank, will be used to repay bank loans

The Bezeq phone company today signed an agreement to raise $100 million from a consortium of banks over five years at Libor interest plus 0.65%.

Citibank underwrote the transaction. Lenders include HSBC, a Chinese bank and a group of Israeli banks.

Bezeq had originally planned to raise $70 million. Chairman Ido Dissentchik said the successful fund-raising efforts attests to the company's status in overseas financial markets. It also reinforces Bezeq's belief that a buyer can be found for the controlling 50.01% interest the State of Israel wants to sell in the company.

Merrill Lynch has been spearheading efforts to find a buyer for the state's controlling interest in Bezeq, to no avail so far.

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Bezeq CEO Ilan Biran commented that the company's achievement in raising such a substantial amount at low interest, despite the harsh political and security environment in Israel and the United States, attests not only to faith in the company's soundness but to that of the State of Israel.

Company CFO Oren Lieder said Bezeq will be using the proceeds to help finance repayment of a bank debt, actually carried out on August 28, of $150 million.