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November 25, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 6:51pm

CABLE & WIRELESS WANTS TO DOUBLE ITS STAKE IN BEZEQ

By CBR Staff Writer

Cable & Wireless Plc appears to be desperate to double its stake in the Israeli state telecoms operator Bezeq Ltd. C&W, which currently holds a 10% stake in Bezeq, is reported to have been negotiating for eighteen months with the Israeli government, which holds a 62% stake, and has appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speed up negotiations. Up to 24.1% of Bezeq is currently up for auction. Last week, an 11.6% public offering was due, but was canceled at the last minute, due apparently to problems completing the issue’s prospectus. The flotation is set to go ahead this month, although a Reuters report suggested it could be delayed until January or February. US Investment bank Merrill Lynch is holding a 12.5% stake to be sold to investors, which it is due to return to the government in January if it can’t find buyers. Nevertheless the Israeli government appears unwilling to partner Bezeq with Cable & Wireless, until it decides what is happening to its majority stake, and might let it on only as a last resort, wishing instead to keep its options open for the future. Cable & Wireless would like to use Bezeq for growing its business in the Middle East.

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