French businessman Patrick Drahi, the controlling shareholder in Israel’s HOT Telecommunication Systems, has reportedly opened negotiations with unnamed financial institutions with a view to obtaining the necessary funding to acquire the stakes of HOT’s other two major shareholders. According to Globes Online, Drahi is looking to acquire the stakes of Eliezer Fishman and Noni Mozes, who own 12.61% and 16.79% of HOT respectively via Fishman Holdings and Monitin Itonut Publishing (Fishman) and Yediot Communications (Mozes). In order to acquire the duo’s shares however, Drahi is first required to increase his own stake in the cableco to more than 45%; he currently holds 44.7% of the company. Drahi already has an option to acquire Delek Group Ltd’s 4% holding, as well shares owned by the public, which would boost his stake to more than 50%, although the latter acquisition is understood to still be under discussion between Drahi and HOT shareholders.
The gaining of full control over HOT would allow Drahi to move forward with proposals to merger the cable operator with local iDEN operator MIRS Communications, which he acquired in December 2009.