June 6, 2019 / 8:39 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Israeli banks sell off 43.6% of bank services firm SHVA

(Adds sale by banks Leumi and Discount)

TEL AVIV, June 6 (Reuters) - Three of Israel’s top banks said on Thursday they sold 43.6% of Israeli bank services firm SHVA to institutional investors for 129 million shekels ($35.8 million) as regulators seek to boost competition in the country’s credit card market.

Bank Hapoalim said it sold a 13.4% stake in SHVA to the public for 40 million shekels while Leumi sold a 20.9% stake for 61.9 million shekels. The remaining shares were sold by Israel Discount Bank.

SHVA, the Hebrew acronym for Automated Banking Services Ltd, provides a large portion of the services in the payment card transaction chain in Israel. The company said its shares will be listed in Tel Aviv but did not provide a date for the start of trade.

The banks are required by regulators to reduce their stake in SHVA by January 2021. Israel’s credit card market has been dominated by Hapoalim and Leumi, which have also had to sell off their credit card companies.

Hapoalim said it would record a pretax profit from the sale of 23 million shekels in the second quarter and an additional gain of 19 million shekels for a revaluation of its remaining 11.1% stake in SHVA.

Leumi said the sale of its shares would not have a significant impact on its financial results.

In April, the Bank of Israel gave Mastercard permission to hold 10% of SHVA after Mastercard signed a deal to buy the stake from Hapoalim. ($1 = 3.6043 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Jane Merriman and Deepa Babington)

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