JERUSALEM Aug 17 Shari Arison, the controlling
shareholder of Bank Hapoalim, sold 176 million shekels
($51 million) worth of Hapoalim shares, the bank said on Sunday.
Arison owns 20.3 percent of Hapoalim, Israel's largest
lender, through Arison Holdings and another 1.3 percent through
Salt of the Earth Ltd, a unit of Arison Holdings.
Hapoalim said Salt sold 8.75 million shares in a deal
outside of the market at 20.12 shekels a share - a discount to
Thursday's closing price of 20.52 shekels.
The price fell 1.5 percent to 20.20 shekels on Sunday.
Salt, which had owned 17.1 million shares, sold the tranche
to Israeli brokerage Excellence. Excellence had already owned a
3.5 percent stake in the bank and sold the shares on to foreign
Some 71.6 percent of Hapoalim's shares are publicly traded.
Arison has sold Hapoalim shares through Salt a number of
times as part of a strategy to reduce leverage while boosting
the amount of foreign investors in the bank.
Hapoalim's shares have risen more than 20 percent since the
start of 2013. Most shares are held by Israeli institutions but
foreign demand has been growing of late.
($1 = 3.4857 Israeli shekel)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)