Israel's Ministry of Communications has informed mobile phone operator Golan Telecom Ltd. by letter that it has been approached by businesspeople interested in acquiring the company, Channel 2 economic affairs program "Savings Plan" has reported.
The Ministry of Communications reportedly said that the businesspeople in question are Russian Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich and Israel startup entrepreneur Oded Kobo. Moreover, the Ministry of Communications has told Golan Telecom that such an option is preferable than its plan to be acquired by Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL), which is opposed by the Israel Antitrust Authority.
It is unclear how much Abramovich and Kobo are offering for Golan Telecom. The Chelsea FC owner and Kobo, the son of Israeli businessman Bebo Kobo, first teamed last year when Abramovich led a $30 million investment round in Kobo's startup Music Messenger, which provides an app allowing music to be messaged to friends.
Golan Telecom is still focusing on its relationship with Cellcom, if not by acquisition, then by network sharing and becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). Such a partnership violates the terms of Golan's license, which requires it to build its own network.
Abramovich and Kobo's reported offer reshuffles the pack. In order to enhance competition, the Ministry of Communications is pushing for Golan to be sold to a new party rather than form a partnership with Cellcom.
Golan Telecom said, "We have an agreement with Cellcom and are appealing the regulator's decision, therefore this is not relevant to Golan Telecom."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 29, 2016
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