After months of negotiations, Raz and Daniel Steinmetz have agreed to sell the controlling interest in Ampal American Israel Corporation (Nasdaq:AMPL) to the Merhav group.

Merhav, controlled by businessman Yossi Maiman, is paying $90 million for a 51% interest in the Israeli investment company.

The price reflects a hefty 50% premium above the interest's market value.

Other contenders for the controlling stake in Ampal included Roy Disney's Shamrock investment group and Polar Investments (formerly known as Poalim Investments).

Ampal's investments include a 25% interest in the MIRS mobile communications company, 20% of Granite Hacarmel ¿ a TASE-listed investment company that controls the Sonol fuel company, and stakes in about 40 startups including XaCCT, SmartLink and Power Dsine.

Ampal also has a wide range of holdings in real estate and properties, including shopping centers and retirement homes.

The Steinmetz family's interests in Ampal had been handled by Raz Steinmetz, who elected to leave in order to focus on other business.

The acquisition by Merhav, an international investment group with a focus on energy, project development and contracting, indicates its new policy of focusing more tightly on its home country.