TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Private equity firm Cerberus CBS.UL and Gabriel Capital Corp issued a tender to sell their 9.8 percent stake in Bank Leumi (LUMI.TA), Israel’s largest bank, for a minimum 1.45 billion shekels ($347 million), the Maariv newspaper said on Sunday.
The price reflects a 1 percent premium to Leumi’s closing price before the weekend.
Maariv said the firms have decided to sell their stake jointly to boost liquidity in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Bernard Madoff scandal.
Money management firm Gabriel is run by Ezra Merkin, who has been charged by New York’s attorney general with secretly placing $2.4 billion of client funds with swindler Madoff.
Madoff pleaded guilty last month to running Wall Street’s biggest investment fraud involving as much as $65 billion over 20 years, including billions from “feeder funds” like Merkin‘s.
Bids for the Leumi stake will be accepted until April 30, the newspaper said.
Cerberus and Gabriel bought the stake in Leumi from the government in 2005 at 16.5 shekels a share.
Leumi shares were up 3.6 percent at 10.25 shekels in morning trade in Tel Aviv, compared with gains of 1 percent in the broader market .TA100.
($1 = 4.18 shekels)
Reporting by Tova Cohen