Shari Arison will sell off shares in Israel’s largest bank

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U.S.-Israeli billionaire Shari Arison said on Tuesday she will sell off shares in Israel’s largest bank, Hapoalim, to the public after failing to find a strategic partner to share in her controlling stake.

Arison, who for years has been looking to reduce her holdings in Hapoalim, said in a statement she had received permission from the Bank of Israel, the country’s bank regulator, to lower her stake to below five percent, from her current 20 percent.

Last month Arison sold control of Israel’s largest construction firm, Shikun & Binui Ltd.

Israel’s central bank said that by the end of the year, Arison’s license to control Hapoalim will be replaced by a license to hold shares.

Following the sell-off, Bank Hapoalim will be held entirely by the public, as are other Israeli banks, without a controlling shareholder. Some 75 percent of Hapoalim’s shares are currently traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, with another 5 percent held by institutional investors.

Hapoalim separately said Arison’s shares would be sold on the stock market and that the bank’s operations would not be affected.

Arison said she has one year to decide on when to start selling her shares and then four years to complete the sale, with an option for a two-year extension pending permission from the banking regulator.

Arison also said her directors on the bank’s board will step down, but no date was given.

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