Dankner's plans to cash in on the Partner stake are well-known, primarily due to the group's need for funds for its leveraged cable company, Matav Media (Nasdaq:MATV), and for the planned cable company merger. Such a sale would also solve Partner's problems concerning its massive loan from Bank Hapoalim.
The Dankner Group responded to the reports stating, "The company is examining a number of alternatives. One of those is the sale of 5.5% of Partner to Hutchison in order to reduce our Partner stake to below 10%."
Partner's response to the reports was not available.
Partner's controlling shareholders undertook as part of its IPO not to reduce the overall holding of the controlling group below 60%, which would lead to the loss of its cellular operator's license. As a result, it is only possible to sell the 15% stake in Partner to other controlling shareholders.
In addition, Partner's license stipulates any sale of 10% or more of Partner's capital shares requires prior approval from the Ministry of Communications.
By selling at least 10% of Partner, Dankner, also a controlling shareholder in Bank Hapoalim, would enable the cellular operator to continue using its credit line from the bank. Supervisor of Banks Yitzhak Tal has expressed concern about a conflict of interest as Dankner holds both the bank and a major borrower. Tal demanded that Partner reduce its debt to Hapoalim by $96 million, half its current balance.
Market analysts doubt the probability of a deal with Hutchison, stating it is not terribly attractive to Hutchison, who could provide Partner with shareholder's loans to cover the loss of credit from Bank Hapoalim.