Arison Buys Out Workers' Interest in Housing & Construction

Paid for $130 million to cement her control over the real estate giant

Shari Arison is cementing her position in two of her major holdings. Yesterday the billionaire heiress signed an agreement to buy the shares owned by the employees of Housing & Construction (TASE: HUCN)  for $130 million.

At yesterday's closing the real estate firm's market cap on the Tel Aviv Stock exchange was $546 million. Arison's purchase values it at about $650 million, to reflect a premium for the controlling interest, as her purchase cements her control over the company.

The shares were sold by about 500 of the company's employees.

The deal was completed in a marathon session yesterday between Arison's representatives and the workers.

H&C also controls the Shikun Ovdim and Solel Boneh construction companies.

In other Arison news, Israel Salt Industries officially announced today that Shari Arison is negotiating to buy the controlling interest in the company from the Dankner family. Arison is the biggest controlling shareholder in Bank Hapoalim, Israel's biggest bank. Salt Industries owns a smaller stake in the controlling interest, too.

Tensions spiked arose after the "American shareholders" in Bank Hapoalim - Michael Steinhardt, Len Abramson and the heirs of Charles Schusterman - decided to sell their shares.

Arison blocked a move by another Dankner relative, Nochi, to buy the shares, and found that the other Dankners claim to have first right of refusal to the shares. War ensued.

Salt Industries clarified that it is not certain whether any agreement will be reached with Arison, adding that substantial issues remain to be agreed upon.

The company does produce salt, but also owns 6 percent of Bank Hapoalim, of which half are ordinary shares and the other half are controlling shares. Out of the controlling interest - 20 percent of Hapoalim's stock - Salt Industries owns 15 percent and Arison owns 57 percent, before the buyout of the Americans.

With Arison's agreement in place to buy out the Americans, if she buys Salt Industries, she will be the sole controlling shareholder at Bank Hapoalim. She would also own Salt Industries and its tremendous land reserves in Eilat and Atlit.