Israel Competition Authority has approved the deal by which Hot Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: HOT) will buy a 23.3% stake in fiber optic venture IBC Israel Broadband (Unlimited) from rival telecom firm Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL) for NIS 170 million. The deal would leave Hot and Cellcom with a 23.3% stake each in IBC with the transaction including an undertaking to substantially increase the deployment of IBC’s fiber-optic network over the next few years. The deal is still subject to approval by the Ministry of Communications. The Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) retains its 23.3% stake in IBC.
The Israel Competition Authority, headed by Michal Halperin, was reluctant to approve the deal which sees Hot and Cellcom working together but was persuaded that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Hot is not prepared to invest in a fiber optic network and the merger may provoke Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) to move ahead more quickly with its fiber optic network.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on January 20, 2021
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