July 16, 2019 / 1:47 PM / 5 months ago

Israel antitrust authority clears Searchlight to buy Bezeq parent

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s competition agency on Tuesday approved a deal that would allow Searchlight Capital Partners to take control of Israel’s largest telecoms group, Bezeq Israel Telecom (BEZQ.TA).

A spokeswoman for the Antitrust Authority said there were no issues with the proposed deal made a month ago, in which Searchlight will inject 640 million shekels ($180.5 million) into B Communications (BCOM.TA), whose single asset is a 26.34 percent controlling stake in Bezeq.

BCom’s board has already approved Searchlight’s bid.

Internet Gold (IGLD.TA), BCom’s parent, has been searching for a buyer for its majority stake in BCom since mid-2018 under pressure from bondholders.

Following the transaction’s completion, BCom will be able to repay its debts, including multiple bond series.

Internet Gold is controlled by Israeli holding company Eurocom, which was issued a liquidation order a year ago by a Tel Aviv court so it can pay back huge debts owed to Israeli banks.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen

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