JERUSALEM Dec 5 Bank Hapoalim,
Israel's largest bank, said it was examining the possibility of
buying rival Israel Discount Bank's New York unit.
It said it was "working to advance the process that will
allow the bank to complete the necessary checks regarding
Discount Bancorp," in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
on Thursday, without elaborating.
Discount Bancorp is the holding company that owns Israel
Discount Bank of New York.
Discount, Israel's third-biggest bank, has said it may sell
all or part of its New York business to shore up its balance
sheet. Net income at its New York subsidiary slipped to $42.7
million in 2012 from $45.8 million in 2011, while total assets
rose to $10 billion from $9.5 billion.
Israeli media reports say that Hapoalim is seeking to buy
the unit to expand its overseas operations since growth in
Israel is limited. Hapoalim already has branches in New York, as
well as in Miami, London, Paris and Zurich and has
representative offices in Canada, Latin America, Europe and
Earlier this week, Discount's controlling shareholders sold
a 7 percent stake in the bank and plan to sell more.