The Israeli telco Golan Telecom, which is up for sale, says there are two companies showing strong interest in proceeding with a deal – one backed by former Pelephone Communications CEO Gil Sharon and the other by 018 Xfone owner Hezi Bezalel. Both groups have reportedly contacted Rothschild Bank, which is handling the sale. It is understood that the two groups had suggested teaming up to buy Golan Telecom, but have since decided to go it alone. Furthermore, HOT Mobile has also shown interest in buying the company, but such a move faces an uphill task if it is to gain regulatory approval, a report from Globes Online suggests.
Golan Telecom is said to be keen to conclude a sale before an outstanding debt of ILS600 million (USD160 million) to Cellcom is due in November; the payment is for Golan’s use of Cellcom’s infrastructure. In November 2015 Cellcom entered into an agreement with Golan’s shareholders to acquire a 100% stake in the company for ILS1.17 billion, but in April this year the Israeli Antitrust Authority (IAA) and the Ministry of Communications (MoC) blocked the deal on competition grounds. Mobile market leader Cellcom then said it was working on an agreement that would allow Golan to continue to use its mobile networks, but in June another firm, HOT Mobile, revealed it was negotiating its own ten-year roaming deal with Golan. Cellcom has said that if the deal with HOT proceeds, it would terminate their share purchase agreement (SPA) and demand compensation of ILS600 million plus VAT as defined in that agreement, as well as the recovery of ILS300 million worth of discounts it provided Golan under their National Roaming Agreement (NRA).