Israeli companies may not contend for the controlling interest in Bank Leumi,

Yedioth Ahronoth

quotes the accountant general as saying.

From the statement made by Accountant General Nir Gilad, only the 120 foreign banks on a list compiled together with the Bank of Israel may bid for the state's controlling interest in Bank Leumi.

Gilad specified that companies not appearing on the list will not be allowed to join any consortium buying control of Leumi.

His statement implies that any entity not defined as a foreign bank may not contend for Leumi. This would seem to put the Italian insurance group Generali out of the running, as well as media mogul Haim Saban.

Both had revealed intentions of bidding for the Israeli bank. Generali was acting through its subsidiary, the Migdal insurance company.