Privatization panel decided not to decide yet on Bezeq's privatization

If the gov't on Sunday elects to progress with Bezeq's sale, a tender can be published right away
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The government privatization committee decided today not to decide the fate of phone company Bezeq.

In a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, no real discussion was held or decisions reached.

Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin detailed the steps taken so far to privatize the company. He supports an immediate government announcement of the company's privatization, as scheduled.

He also stressed the importance of continuing the process without delay in order to promote competition in the domestic sector.

Merrill Lynch, which is advising the Israeli government on Bezeq's privatization, has failed to find a strategic buyer. The panel did not discuss this snag.

Government Companies Authority directorYaron Jacobs, who opposes publishing a tender at this time, given the lack of interest by foreign investors, did not speak at the meeting.

Nor did the panel discuss the 50% that the Disney-controlled Shamrock group holds in Pele-Phone, although it was on the agenda. Bezeq holds the other 50% and, in principle, wants to obtain full control of the cellular provider.

The government is slated to discuss the issue on Sunday. If it decides to steam ahead, the tender will be published immediately.

Normally Prime Minister Ariel Sharon chairs privatization committee meetings, but he was not available for today's discussion.