June 8, 2020 / 10:37 AM / a month ago

Israeli ministry won't oppose Cellcom purchase of Golan Telecom

FILE PHOTO: A man stands near the shop entrance of Israeli mobile phone operator, Cellcom, in Ashdod, south Israel September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel’s Finance Ministry said on Monday it does not see a reason to oppose the proposed acquisition of Golan Telecom by Cellcom Israel (CEL.TA), the country’s largest mobile operator.

Cellcom in February offered to pay 590 million shekels ($171 million) for its smaller rival, which is held by Electra Consumer Products (ECP.TA).

The position of the Finance Ministry, laid out by its budget department in a letter, helps pave the way for the deal to go through, though it still needs anti-trust approval

“After analysing the expected implications from the merger ... we did not find that the merger, including its impact on the level of competition, prices and the amount of investments in the market, raises concerns for harm to the point that justifies opposition to the request,” the ministry said in a letter to the Communications Ministry and the Anti-Trust Authority.

Israel’s mobile phone industry was shaken up in 2012 with the entry of new operators, sparking a price war. Struggling to remain profitable, the sector is seeing moves towards consolidation.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Ari Rabinovitch

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