UPDATE 1-Saban to buy 2 pct of Israel's Partner Comms from Leumi

Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:22am EST

JERUSALEM Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S.-Israeli media magnate Haim Saban will buy about 2 percent Partner Communications from Bank Leumi in addition to a controlling stake from Partner's parent.

Partner said on Thursday it had been informed that Saban's S.B. Israel Telecom agreed to buy 3.2 million shares of Partner from Leumi Partners, the investment arm of Leumi - Israel's second largest bank.

Financial terms were not disclosed but Israeli media reported it was about 25 shekels per share for a total of 80 million shekels ($22 million). Partner's shares were up 0.5 percent at 21.66 shekels in afternoon trading in Tel Aviv.

Last month, Saban agreed to buy 30.7 percent of Partner, Israel's second-largest mobile phone operator that operates under the Orange brand name, from holding company Scailex Corp for 250 million shekels. Scailex will retain 13.8 percent of Partner.

Saban is also taking on a $300 million loan that Scailex owes to Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, from which Scailex acquired Partner in 2009.

Earlier this week, Scailex received Israeli Communications Ministry approval for the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the coming days.

Leumi had bought a 4.99 percent stake in Partner from Scailex in 2009 for 67 shekels a share and is selling the stake at a big loss as part of a plan to sell non-financial holdings.

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