UPDATE 1-Israel's Harel, Phoenix exposed to Madoff

Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:32am EST

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(Adds statement from Phoenix)

TEL AVIV Dec 15 (Reuters) - Israeli insurers Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services (HARL.TA) and The Phoenix Holdings (PHOE1.TA) both said on Monday they had investments in instruments linked to Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff.

Harel said some of its subsidiaries invested a total of 55 million shekels ($14.2 million) in a U.S. fund that had invested in financial instruments linked to Madoff.

This included 42 million shekels in assets belonging to clients of its provident funds and pensions funds, out of a total of 37.5 billion shekels in assets managed by Harel, as well as 13 million shekels of its own funds, out of a total of 15 billion.

The unnamed U.S. fund could not estimate the potential damage from its $7.5 billion in investments linked to Madoff, Harel said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Phoenix said its insurance unit invested $15 million of its own funds over the past three years in funds managed by Thema which carried out their investment strategy via Madoff.

In November Phoenix filed a request to redeem $10 million. Although payment was due on Dec. 12, Phoenix said it has not yet received the money.

If Thema invested the entire amount from Phoenix with Madoff and if Phoenix does not receive the $10 million payment, it said it stands to lose a maximum of 48 million shekels after tax.

U.S. prosecutors and regulators have accused Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, of masterminding a $50 billion fraud through his investment advisory business. He was arrested on Thursday.

Harel's shares were down 2.4 percent in afternoon trade, while Phoenix shares fell 13.6 percent.

($1 = 3.86 shekels)

(Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Hans Peters)

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