Will Golden Pages Offering Be the First Exit for Markstone?

The Markstone Fund is preparing to take its first Israeli acquisition, Golden Pages, public. The IPO will probably take place in the first half of 2006.

Sources close to the company say that the new CEO of Golden Pages, Nir Lampert, will spend a considerable amount of his time on the offering.

By listing the company on the stock market, the controlling shareholder is paving the way for an easy exit in the event of a future sale.

Markstone bought Golden Pages from Aurec in October for about NIS 500 million in cash after raising $800 million, mainly from institutional investors in the United States.

Golden Pages publishes printed and online telephone directories and has about 400 employees. Its two profitable business activities are the printed directories, in which Golden Pages is the market leader in Israel, and its online directories (www.d.co.il).

Some industry observers see Google and its increasing activity in Israel as the biggest threat facing this part of Golden Pages.

In the past two years, Golden Pages has stepped up its efforts to attract advertisers. In May, 2004 the company established a loyalty club for small and medium businesses at a cost of NIS 9 million.

A Markstone company spokesman said that share issues are an accepted method for growing a company.