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The Markstone Capital Group is buying 100% of the Steimatzky chain of book stores and publishing house, which is run jointly with Keter.

The deal also covers Steimatzky's operations outside Israel.

Steimatzky is Israel's biggest bookstore chain. The company has 150 stores and annual sales of about NIS 400 million a year, not including profits from its publishing house with Keter.

The scope of the transaction could not be ascertained. Ari Steimatzky had been reportedly negotiating to sell the outfit to Yedioth Ahronoth. Market sources thought that Steimatzky was asking for NIS 200 million for the company.

Steimatzky and Yedioth refused to confirm the rumors. Market sources assume that Markstone, a private equity fund run by Ron Lubash, Amir Kess and Elliott Broidy, are paying somewhere in the range of $50-100 million for the chain.

Markstone commented that has no plans to make any changes to the chain. Ari Steimatzky will remain the company's chairman and Yehoshua Mazliach, the CEO, will also remain.

The fund added that it views Steimatzky as a leading brand name and the transaction is for the long-term.

Markstone quickly became the biggest private equity group in Israel, with $800 million under management. It has made several investments before buying the books chain, including the acquisition of Golden Pages, 20% of Nilit and 40 of the infrastructure company PRS. It also bought 20% of smart irrigation systems maker Netafim, a deal now being closed. It has also been maneuvering to buy Ace Buy & Build, but that transaction is undergoing legal perusal.

With Ora Coren