Fishman Near to Selling T4U to Blackstone

Proceeds from $232 million sale would help ease tycoon’s debt load.

Moti Milrod

Eliezer Fishman, the tycoon with billions of shekels in debt to the Israeli banks, is in advanced talks to sell his controlling stake in the Brazilian cellphone-tower operator T4U Holding Brasil SA to the U.S. private equity fund Blackstone Group for 725 million reals ($232 million).

Fishman’s daughter Anat Menipaz, a managing director in the Fishman Group, is in New York to close the final details of an agreement to sell Blackstone his 84% stake in T4U.

The sale of T4U comes as Fishman struggles to repay some 4.5 billion shekels ($1.1 billion) in personal debt to the banks, most of it to Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi. If the sale goes through, however, the main beneficiaries will be to smaller banks — Israel Discount Bank, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and Union Bank of Israel, which hold the T4U shares as collateral.

The sale to Blackstone follows an unsuccessful attempt to conduct an initial public offering in T4U on the Sao Paulo stock market at a $300 million valuation.

T4U, whose CEO is Hagai Porat, has annual revenues of about $75 million and an operating profit of $25 million. It is regarded as one of Fishman’s prize assets, alongside the Israeli real estate company Jerusalem Economy. Fishman is also in talks to sell his Ten Petroleum Company gas station and convenience store business for 250 million shekels.