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A delegation headed by Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin reported learning "nothing new" in a meeting with Merrill Lynch management on Friday, devoted to the privatization of Bezeq.

Merrill Lynch is advising the State of Israel on privatizing Bezeq. The investment bank advised the Israeli government that is has had no success in finding a strategic buyer for the Israeli phone company. Despite the lack of progress, the government will evidently be striding forward with an announcement for Bezeq's sale.

Rivlin says that until the privatization is officially announced, the number of potential buyers cannot be properly assessed.

He is leaning toward convening the ministerial privatization committee ahead of schedule, to finalize and announce the company's sale as soon as possible.

Government Companies Authority general manager Yaron Jacobs recently advised Rivlin that given the dearth of buyer interest, he supports carrying out Bezeq's privatization gradually.

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Yaron advocates starting by selling a 35% stake, and later another 15.1%, if the conditions are auspicious.

The state had planned to sell a controlling 50.1% stake at once.

Rivlin has not commented on Yaron's concept.

The Ministry of Justice and the Shin Bet security service both oppose Yaron's piecemeal plan. Representatives of all the ministries involved with Bezeq's privatization will meet soon to discuss the manner of sale.

A month ago the government, encouraged by Prime Minister Arik Sharon, decided to move ahead with announcing Bezeq's sale despite the lack of buyers. The government position contradicted Yaron's, who opposes rushing ahead at this time.