Bronfman Reps Eye Next Target - IKEA

Representatives of tycoon Matthew Bronfman, who just bought a controlling stake in Israel Discount Bank, have been checking out IKEA Israel, Haaretz has learned. The representatives are in talks with executives at Co-Op Blue Square Consumer Cooperative Society, which holds a 75 percent stake in Ikea Israel, and with parent company Ikea International, though Co-Op has yet to offer the stake for sale officially .

Bronfman and partner David Wiessman bought Blue Square from Co-Op in 2003. Past reports noted that Blue Square was considering such a deal, which Wiessman was responsible for investigating. However, Wiessman told Haaretz Monday that in his view, buying Ikea "is currently not in the cards."

Now, it turns out that not Wiessman but Bronfman is the one interested in Ikea. However, a Bronfman group spokesman commented, "Matthew Bronfman is currently busy buying Israel Discount Bank and Dudi Wiessman's stake in Blue Square."

The Bronfman-Wiessman partnership has encountered a number of disputes, and is reportedly on the verge of dissolution. Associates of Bronfman Fisher Investments said Sunday that they made Wiessman an offer to immediately acquire his 39 percent stake in Blue Square. The offer is reportedly NIS 800 million, well over its market value of NIS 677 million.

Turnover at Ikea during the past four years totaled NIS 1.13 billion, the home furnishings chain revealed in court-related documents. Ikea Israel is considered a cash cow and has attracted interest from many potential investors.