Israeli tycoon Eliezer Fishman is scooping up shares in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-traded IDB Holding Corporation in market transactions, institutional investors believe.

Action in IDB Holdings shares was disproportionately heavy on the TASE today. NIS 9 million worth of shares changed hands even though the session, the last in the Passover holiday, was sluggish. Moreover, the shares spent most of the session sustaining an unusually steep gain of 3% to 5%.

This morning

Ma'ariv

reported that Fishman is negotiating to increase his stake in IDB Holding from just below 5% to 15%. Under Israeli law, shareholders with an interest exceeding 5% have to report their stock movements to the TASE.

The value of a 5% block of IDB Holding shares is about NIS 175 million today. Fishman paid rather more than that when he bought the shares. He's apparently out tens of millions of shekels.

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Nonetheless, Fishman is reportedly taking advantage of the stock's low price to stock up and reduce the average cost of his holdings in the group. But given how sparse trade is on the TASE these days, he can only buy a few millions of shekels worth each day.

Later, the sources surmise, Fishman will offer to buy more shares in the company from institutional investors, mainly mutuals run by Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi.

Funds run by Hapoalim hold 6.3% of IDB Holdings' shareholders equity and Leumi funds hold another 6.9%. But TheMarker.com has learned that neither have been contacted by Fishman as yet.

Goldman Sachs is also a substantial shareholders in IDB Holding (under Israeli law, that means it holds more than 5% of its share capital). Goldman Sachs has a 9.5% interest. American investor Bill Davidson holds another 4.8%, but neither are reportedly looking to sell.

Fishman reportedly does not want to take over control of the group. His plan is apparently to achieve a substantial stake that can be sold to a strategic investor allying with the Recanati family, which owns a controlling interest in the IDB group.

Although the Recanatis deny it, Oudi Recanati reportedly wants to sell his share in the group, which consist of 18% of the voting power and 16.5% of the share capital.