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Report: Blackstone seeks controlling stake in Israeli credit card company

Private equity giant The Blackstone Group Inc. is aiming to buy a controlling stake in Isracard Ltd. at a valuation of 2.8 billion shekels, Haaretz reported.

Bank Hapoalim BM, however, is reportedly looking for a higher valuation for Isracard, in which the bank owns a 33% stake.

Yona Fogel, who is stepping down from Paz Oil Co. Ltd. as CEO, is also working to form an investor group that would bid for Isracard, the publication noted.

Hapoalim and Bank Leumi le-Israel BM had been ordered by the Israeli government to sell their credit card divisions to spur competition in consumer lending. Hapoalim reportedly has until January 2021 to fully divest from Isracard. The bank may still choose other options, including listing Isracard's remaining shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, or issuing the shares as a dividend to Hapoalim's stockholders.

Danny Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, is leading Blackstone's planned bid, along with former CAL Israel Credit Cards CEO Doron Sapir.

Hapoalim and Sapir did not comment on the matter, according to Haaretz.

As of Jan. 17, US$1 was equivalent to about 3.46 Israeli shekels.