Bank Hapoalim subsidiary Poalim Capital Markets is holding advanced talks to buy Tel Aviv-listed IBI Underwriting and Investments.

IBI Underwriting is controlled by Israel Brokerage & Investments IBI, which is controlled by TASE-listed Gachelet Investment Co (40%). The deal will require regulatory approval.

News of the talks was confirmed by Gachelet today, but it declined to discuss the sums involved.

IBI Underwriting has not yet published its third-quarter results, but the ice coating the primary market will surely be evident. Its revenues for the first half of 2001 dropped steeply to NIS 4.5 million, from NIS 28.6 million in the parallel half of 2000.

Gachelet also has holdings in IBI Mutual Fund Management (39%), and Amban Resource Allocation in Trust (49%), which manages institutional portfolios.

Bank Hapoalim already provides brokerage services through Poalim Capital Markets, a mutual funds group that has 76 funds under its management, and the investments management firm Peilim.

Hapoalim isn't the only one intensifying its activity in the capital market. The First International Bank of Israel is negotiating to buy investment house Ilanot Batucha at a company value of $60 million to $70 million. Bank Discount already has its hand in with Ilanot Discount.