IDB Holding Corporation chairman Leon Recanati may also become a contender for

Israel Discount Bank of New York

, business sources said yesterday.

Declared contenders include

Bank Hapoalim


Bank Leumi

(TASE:LUMI), and the Safra brothers.

Banking sources say that several investment houses and European banks are also showing interest, as is : a group of managers formerly hailing from Commercial Bank of New York. The group has formally advised the Israeli authorities of their interest in the entire Discount operation, not only in the New York unit, TheMarker reported.

Recanati is reportedly putting together a consortium, including Israeli and foreign investors, that will offer $900 million for Discount New York, which is considered the best asset

Israel Discount Bank

(TASE:DSCT) has to offer.

To date the price touted for Discount New York has ranged from $750 million to $800 million. But the multiplicity of bidders is expected to push the price up. $750 million would be 1.5 times the bank's shareholders equity, which stood at $482 million at the end of the first quarter.

Recanati knows Discount New York well, since IDB Holding Corporation which is controlled by the Recanati and Carasso families owns 13% of Bank Discount.

The families are in the process of selling control over IDB Holding Corporation to a group headed by Nochi Dankner's Ganden Holdings. Sources at Ganden said yesterday the deal is progressing toward finalization, but that regulatory approvals have yet to be obtained and Bank Leumi has yet to agree to provide the financing.

Meanwhile, Joseph Safra met with Finance Minister Silvan Shalom yesterday and brought up the matter of Discount New York. Safra sought assurances that the contenders would be granted equal chances, but people close to Shalom said that nothing material was discussed regarding the bank.

Safra representatives will be meeting today with Yitzhak Klein, the CEO of MI Holdings, the government company that runs state-owned companies.

In the past the Safras have expressed interest in buying the whole Discount group, not only the New York branch. It controls the First International Bank of Israel, and has banking businesses in Brazil and Europe.