Scailex says deal to sell Israel's Partner to Saban imminent

JERUSALEM Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:18am EST

JERUSALEM Nov 29 (Reuters) - Israeli holding company Scailex Corp said on Thursday it was in advanced talks to sell most of its stake in Partner Communications to Saban Capital Group.

"These negotiations are very advanced and the company estimates that a deal between the two sides will be signed in the coming hours," Scailex said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

It added it would be a joint partner with Saban in controlling Partner. Israeli media said that after the deal, Scailex - which owns 44.5 percent of Partner - will remain with 15 percent while Saban will hold 33 percent.

Saban will buy 2-4 percent of Partner from institutional investors, the Calcalist financial news website said.

Last month, it began talks with U.S.-Israeli media magnate Haim Saban about a possible sale of Partner, Israel's second-largest mobile phone operator.

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, from which Scailex controlling shareholder Ilan Ben-Dov acquired Partner three years ago, has a lien on 12 percent of the company's shares. In August, Hutchison pulled out of a deal to regain control of Partner by buying 75 percent of Scailex and analysts had said Scailex would seek a new buyer for Partner.

Saban, Globes said, will pay $80 million and take on the $300 million debt that Scailex owes to Hutchison.

Shares of Scailex were up 23.3 percent, while Partner's shares were up 4.5 percent, in late trading in Tel Aviv. (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen)

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