Drahi calls for exemption from ownership restrictions in MIRS acquisition

15 Jan 2010

French businessman Patrick Drahi, who already controls Israeli cable HOT Telecommunication Systems, has reportedly asked Moshe Kahlon, the minister of communications, to approve a permit that will allow him to take control of local iDEN operator MIRS Communications. According to Globes Online Drahi is seeking an exemption as he does not meet the ‘Israeliness’ criteria that is required to control the cellco under existing Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Defence rules. The executive has requested a two-year exemption from the current regulations, which state that MIRS must be at least 20% owned by an Israeli company, while its management should be overseen by Israelis with security clearance from the state.

In his contact with the minister, Drahi has also revealed further details of the expected plans for completing the MIRS acquisition. Luxembourg-registered Altice Securities SARC expects to complete the purchase in one of two ways; it will either transfer its rights in MIRS to HOT, or will purchase the mobile operator outright. It is understood that Drahi favours completing the sale using the latter method, which has led to the request for the exemption from the current ownership restrictions.