February 26, 2018 / 9:58 AM / a year ago

Bank Hapoalim credit card unit Isracard profit up 8 pct in 2017

JERUSALEM, Feb 26 (Reuters) -

* Bank Hapoalim unit Isracard, Israel’s largest credit card company reported an 8 percent increase in profit in 2017, boosted by higher revenue stemming from a rise in the number of cards issued.

* Isracard earned 299 million shekels ($86 million) last year, up from 276 million in 2016.

* Revenue grew 6 percent to 2.2 billion shekels.

* In the fourth quarter, net profit fell 38 percent to 29 million shekels.

* The amount of cards in circulation stood at 5.05 million at the end of 2017, up from 4.89 million in 2016.

* Israel last year approved new regulations meant to increase competition in the sector by prohibiting the country’s top two banks from owning credit card companies.

* Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, in October hired Citi to lead the sale of Isracard to either an investor or in the capital market.

* It has said it was looking into three options - selling shares of Isracard to the public, selling it to an investor or group of investors, or distributing its shares as a dividend to Hapoalim stakeholders.

* The bank has three years to sell the unit - or four years if it sells Isracard to the public.

* Number two bank Leumi will have to sell its LeumiCard unit.

* ($1 = 3.4866 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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