Israel's Partner bids to buy Marathon 018 Xfone

Israel's Partner bids to buy Marathon 018 Xfone

Israeli mobile network operator company Partner Communications, formerly known as Orange Israel, has made a bid for Marathon (018) Xfone, offering ILS187 million (USD58 million) for the business activity of its smaller rival.

In a press release, the Israeli provider of telecommunications services said it filed a purchase offer to the arrangement manager of Marathon (018) Xfone to purchase the business, excluding any liabilities related to the network sharing agreement between Marathon and Cellcom Israel. Xfone's debt is reportedly around 60 million shekels (about $18.6 million).

Partner's bid to buy Xfone comes after Golan Telecom - a unit of Cellcom, Israel's largest mobile provider - offered to buy Xfone.

As part of its bid, Partner said it would offer at least 70% of Xfone's employees continued employment for at least one year, beginning at the date of the purchase.

Partner, the second-largest mobile operator in Israel, is one of three or more companies looking to buy Xfone, whose business is in a sort of a precarious position following the breakdown of a network-sharing agreement with Cellcom earlier this year. According to Israeli media reports, the cause of conflict appears to have been Cellcom’s acquisition of Golan Telecom this time last year, which Xfone claimed violated the network-sharing arrangement.

Though Israel's regulator had previously resisted mergers, its approval of Cellcom's purchase of Golan signaled it also wants to avoid company failures.

Market sources believe that Partner's bid is designed to be a counterweight to the bid by Cellcom Israel to buy Xfone, which also is highly unlikely to receive the regulators' permission to make the acquisition.

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