Liora Ofer Denies Plans to Sell Stake in Mizrahi Bank

Under new anti-concentration laws Ofer Investments must offload either bank or real-estate giant Melisron

Vardi Kahana

Liora Ofer, the chairwoman of Ofer Investments, has made a decision in principle to sell the company’s interest in the controlling shareholder group of Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, TheMarker has learned. Ofer, however, denies any such plan.

According to information received by the TheMarker, Ofer made the decision to divest of Ofer Investments’ interest in the bank, but to retain its holdings in Melisron, a major shopping mall and commercial real-estate company where she serves as chairman of the board. For her part, however, after a report regarding her plans appeared in TheMarker in Hebrew on Monday, Ofer issued the following statement: “I am not selling Mizrahi Bank, period. The bank is one of the finest assets of Ofer Investments. I suggest that everyone not engage in baseless speculation of one kind or another.”

Ofer added that she had not been asked for her reaction prior to the appearance of the initial report on the matter.

According to the information obtained by TheMarker, however, Ofer is interested in selling the interest in the bank as a result of the new law curbing concentration of corporate economic interests, which would require the Ofer group to either give up its controlling stake in the bank or sell some of Melisron’s assets. If the Ofer family proceeds with the move to divest, it might retain a small quantity of Mizrahi shares outside of the investor group that controls the bank. The controlling shareholder group in the bank also includes the Wertheim family with a 22.4 % share.

Under the new government rules aimed at reducing the concentration of economic power, conglomerates will no longer be able to hold both significant financial and non-financial assets. Therefore, Ofer is expected to have to choose between Mizrahi and Melisron in the coming years.

With reporting from Reuters.