April 10, 2019 / 7:01 AM / 16 days ago

Israel's Bank Hapoalim sells 65.2 pct of credit card unit in IPO

TEL AVIV, April 10 (Reuters) - Shares in Isracard will begin trading in Tel Aviv next week after Bank Hapoalim completed the sale of a 65.2 percent stake in the credit card company to institutional investors and the general public.

The Isracard shares were sold at 13.5 shekels each, reflecting a total value for Israel’s largest credit card company of 2.7 billion shekels ($755 million), the bank said.

Last week Hapoalim sold 58.25 percent of Isracard to institutional investors for 1.6 billion shekels.

This rose to 65.2 percent this week with a sale to the general public, as well as the exercising of a greenshoe option.

The offering comes after Israel passed a law in 2017 requiring the two largest banks - Hapoalim and Leumi - to sell their credit card units by 2020 in a bid to reduce concentration in the lending market and lower credit costs.

Hapoalim said that since its stake in Isracard fell to below 40 percent after the initial public offering, by law it will have until January 2021 to divest the remaining shares.

U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus bought Leumi Card from Leumi and Azrieli Group last month for 2.5 billion shekels. ($1 = 3.5775 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

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