JERUSALEM Dec 3 Israel Discount Bank's
two controlling shareholders have sold a 7 percent
stake for 493 million shekels ($140 million), the bank said on
Tuesday, the beginning of a phased sell-off of their 25-percent
Trying to turn around Israel's No. 3 bank has been tough for
U.S.-Canadian businessman Matthew Bronfman and New York real
estate investor Rubin Schron, who bought the stake from the
government in 2005.
They have cut its loan portfolio to reduce risk assets and
improve its capital adequacy ratio, and say they may sell part
of its U.S. business to shore up the balance sheet. Recent
profits have been bolstered by sales of proprietary securities.
The bank's shares fell 3.2 percent to 6.867 shekels by 1105
GMT after Bronfman and Schron sold 73.8 million shares at 6.679
each to Citigroup. It closed at 7.098 on Monday. Dealers said
the stock has been sold on to institutional investors.
They cannot sell the remaining stock for at least 120 days.
Bronfman and Schron are no longer allowed to appoint
directors or make any moves that controlling shareholders make,
the Bank of Israel said after they announced their intent to
sell control. Each of them will also be required to hold less
than 5 percent of the bank, it said.
The Psagot brokerage owns 5.9 percent while some 69 percent
of Discount is freely traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
The bank last week reported a 25 percent rise in
third-quarter profit but a 4.2 percent fall in net interest
In October, Discount named Lilach Asher-Topilsky as its new
chief executive pending regulatory approval. She would replace
Reuven Spiegel, who in August said he planned to step down in
March 2014 for personal reasons.