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Keter Publishing House and Steimatzky are merging their publishing and their distribution operations, respectively. The two companies, both giants in their niches - publishing and book sales - are to call their joint firm Keter Books.

Keter CEO Yiftach Dekel will take over as the alpha executive at the new company. Steimatzky will own 48 percent of Keter Books, while Keter will own the controlling interest, the companies stated in an agreement signed yesterday.

The new company will publish new books for both Keter and Steimatzky, and will distribute books that each has published separately in the past. It will also grant distribution services to other publishers.

The only obstacle before the new company commences operations is obtaining the blessing of Antitrust commissioner Dror Strum.

Keter and Steimatzky expect the new venture to make about NIS 50 million a year.

All the editorial and other workers at Keter will be joining the new company, as will the marketing staff. Steimatzky itself, however, remains under the full ownership of the Steimatzky family.

Dekel commented that the union is between the two most successful companies in their sector, Keter as a creative home for high-quality artists and Steimatzky as a chain of book stores. Their merger is the ultimate union of content and marketing, he commented.

Ari Steimatzky, chairman of the chain, added that Steimatzky has been engaged in publishing and retail since 1925. The company has 150 stores throughout Israel, as well as outlets in London and Los Angeles and an online store. It also publishes tourist guides, cookbooks and albums.

As for Keter, it was established in 1958 and has been listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange since 1987. It has two divisions: publishing of literature, training manuals, books for children, encyclopedias and so forth; and a publication service for commercial and other customers.