Cellcom said set to buy Golan Telecom for NIS 600 million
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Cellcom said set to buy Golan Telecom for NIS 600 million

Merger would secure firm’s place as Israel’s largest mobile provider, with some 3.4 million subscribers

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

A Cellcom service station in Jerusalem, November 5, 2015. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
A Cellcom service station in Jerusalem, November 5, 2015. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Israeli mobile giant Cellcom is set to buy phone company Golan Telecom for some 600 million NIS ($175 million), according to reports Tuesday.

Cellcom will additionally waive a debt from Golan Telecom of NIS 130 million ($38 million).

The deal with Golan, which has some 900,000 subscribers, will secure Cellcom’s place as Israel’s largest mobile phone company, with some 3.4 total million customers.

Some reports said Cellcom would pay NIS 620 million ($181 million) for Golan.

The boards of the companies are reportedly meeting Tuesday to approve the deal.

Two-thirds of the payment, some NIS 410 million ($119 million), will be made immediately in cash, and the remainder will be paid out in installments over the next three years.

Cellcom is likely aiming to stay one step ahead of a possible merger between rivals HOT Mobile and Partner. Israel’s Competition Authority and Communications Ministry could bar further mergers in the telecommunications industry after Cellcom’s purchase of Golan.

Golan heard competing offers from the Bezeq national phone company in recent weeks, the Calcalist financial news outlet reported.

An advertisement for Golan Telecom in Jerusalem, on November 5, 2015. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Former Labor party leader Avi Gabbay was appointed CEO of Cellcom in January, making a return to the telecommunications industry after a brief stint in politics. Gabbay previously served as CEO of Bezeq in 2007-2013.

Golan Telecom, established in 2012, was the fifth operator to enter Israel’s mobile communications market, offering fixed-price packages that were far cheaper than the competition.

But after the fanfare, with which it burst onto the Israeli cellular scene, Golan has had a rocky ride, struggling with debt, infrastructure woes and government fines.

Cellcom attempted to buy Golan in 2015, but the deal was opposed by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the time, and was rejected by anti-trust regulators.

The firm is a subsidiary of Electra Consumer Products.

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