Certain minority shareholders of the government-controlled Israel Electric Corporation are demanding explanations for the Board of Directors decision to buy most of the company's natural gas needs from an Egyptian consortium.

In late January the Electric Corp. board decided to negotiate the purchase of 53% of its gas needs with EMG, a group whose owners include the Egyptian government and Israeli businessman Yossi Maiman. The company will negotiate the purchase of the other 47% with two other groups, the Tethys Sea partnership and Isramco-British Gas TheMarker.com has learned.

The shareholders questioning the decision are members of the general public. They hold about one percent of the company's share equity.

The shareholders claim to have learned from press reports that the board decision was taken based on partial documentation, and without thorough perusal of bids.

Given the magnitude of the sums involved about $3 billion over ten years the decision was made in a rash and perhaps even negligent manner, the shareholders claim.

The shareholders add that they have to wonder about the directors' considerations when making the decision, mainly in respect to the reliability of the proposed suppliers, and the dependence on a foreign country whose relations with Israel are unstable and correlated to political developments.