Hapoalim isn't forcing sale of Azorim, claim IDB Holdings buyers

Azorim is on the block for strategic reasons, claims Kardan-Recanati group
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The designated controlling shareholders in IDB Holding Corporation deny a Ha'aretz report today that Bank Hapoalim is forcing IDB to sell the real estate company Azorim.

The Kardan-Recanati group has to sell its 65% stake in Azorim in order to access loans to buy control over IDB Holding Corporation, Ha'aretz reported.

The bank is forcing the move in order to minimize its risk in the loans, Ha'aretz wrote.

The Hapoalim loans in question are being made to the Tel Aviv-based Kardan investment group and businessman Leon Recanati, who in June 2001 agreed together with the Carasso family to increase their holdings in IDB Holding Corporation to 51%, based on a company value of NIS 1.3 billion.

The Kardan-Recanati group claims that no such demand regarding sale of assets came up during negotiations over the loans. It also stated that IDB's decision to sell Azorim is based on strategic considerations pertaining to the group's asset composition. Unless the price is right, IDB won't sell, the group added.

In the past IDB has offered to sell its stake in the firm for around $450 million. After a $50 million dividend, the price is down to $400 million.

Two contenders have shown up: TASE-traded Noga Electrotechnika and Comfy, a company controlled by the Disney family's investment company Shamrock Investments. Noga however probably cannot raise the money, though.

Meanwhile, Azorim has been taking steps to prepare for its sale. Among other things it sold TASE-listed Ytong to Urden Industries for NIS 224 million, after withdrawing a fat NIS 65 million dividend.