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Israel’s largest credit-card firm leaning towards $1 billion IPO, instead of sale

Hapoalim and its largest competitor, Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., must sell their credit-card businesses by 2020 due to recently passed Israeli banking reforms.

A branch of Bank Hapoalim in downtown Jerusalem. Credit: Djampa/Wikimedia Commons.
A branch of Bank Hapoalim in downtown Jerusalem. Credit: Djampa/Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s largest credit-card business is leaning towards a $1 billion initial public offering, instead of a sale or giving its portion to shareholders.

Bank Hapoalim Ltd., Israel’s second-biggest bank, “has been working with Citigroup Inc. on options for Isracard Ltd. and could list the unit’s shares on the local exchange shortly after reporting annual earnings in March,” sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. “Hapoalim has almost finished working on a draft prospectus for the offering, but is cautious about when and if to proceed with the IPO because of recent market volatility.”

“Two factors underpin the bank’s current thinking: underwhelming bids from private investors and a desire to remain as a minority shareholder in a business that will compete with Hapoalim over retail credit in the near future,” added the outlet.

Hapoalim and its largest competitor, Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., must sell their credit-card businesses by 2020 due to recently passed Israeli banking reforms. An IPO gives the banks an additional year to sell down to 40 percent.

Israel has the third most companies listed on the Nasdaq, after the United States and China.

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