Media mogul Haim Saban is to contend for the control of

Bank Leumi

, reports

Yedioth Ahronoth


This is the first time Saban, an he Israeli expatriate, has shown interest in investing in Israel,



A representative for Saban recently arrived in Israel to work on creating a consortium to bid for Leumi. A spokesman on Saban's behalf declined to comment.

In January this year Saban sold his stake in the American television network Fox Kids to the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch for $2 billion.

Saban is famous for producing the Power Rangers kiddie series and for contributing handsomely to former U.S. president Bill Clinton's political career. He also helped former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak raise cash for his campaigns.

Other entities apparently readying to contend for the controlling interest in Bank Leumi, currently owned by the state, include the


Italian-Israeli group, which in the past belonged to the Leumi group,


, and

Lehman Brothers


The state owns 42% of Bank Leumi. After fierce debate on the way Leumi should be privatized, a public panel recommended selling the control in Leumi to a foreign bank. The panel was headed by Shimon Gal, manager of MI Holdings, the government company in change of privatization.

The Migdal group has recently been stocking up on Leumi shares. It currently holds 8.5% of the bank's share capital.