Israeli-American television and media proprietor Haim Saban has reportedly agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Israeli mobile network operator Partner Communications, according to Reuters. It is understood that Saban Capital will pay ILS250 million (USD65 million) to the largest current shareholder in the cellco, Israeli handset distributor Scailex Corp, for a 30.7% holding; the transaction will leave Scailex with a 13.8% stake, while its parent company, Suny Electronics, will retain its 1.4% direct holding in Partner. Under the terms of the deal, Saban Capital will also take on a USD300 million loan that Scailex owes to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL).
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, having sold its holding in Partner Communications back in August 2009, in June 2012 it was claimed that HWL was set to pay USD125 million for 75% of Scailex, which would have once again given it a stake in Partner Communications. However, just two months later, in August 2012 HWL confirmed that offers by two of its associated companies to acquire the stake would not move forward. Persall Pte Ltd and Kelburgh Pte Ltd reportedly terminated the conditional agreement entered into on 5 June 2012 to acquire shares in Scailex, with a press release from the Hong Kong outfit noting: ‘The termination by Persall and Kelburgh was in exercise of their rights under the agreement on the grounds that conditions under the agreement have not been fulfilled.’