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Fosun International takes stake in Israeli insurer

Updated: 2015-06-24 08:53

Delek Group Ltd has agreed to sell its controlling stake in Phoenix Holdings Ltd, Israel's fourth-largest insurance provider by market value, to China's Fosun International Ltd.

Delek, an Israel-based holding company, announced on Sunday that it would sell its entire 52 percent stake to a unit of the Shanghai-based conglomerate, according to an e-mailed statement. The purchase price is about $461.6 million plus interest accrued before the deal's closing date, with other adjustments possible, Fosun said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The maximum payable may be about $489 million, it said.

Asaf Bartfeld, chief executive officer of Delek Group, said in an e-mailed statement: "It is an important strategic deal for the group ... We are in a great starting position to implement our plans and undertake strategic investments in the international energy market, which will be synergistic and complementary to our activities."

Delek needs to sell its stake in Phoenix to comply with a law passed in December 2013 that prohibits Israeli companies from owning financial services corporations as well as industrial businesses.

The deal adds to the company's agreements to sell other units including Delek Europe BV and Barak Capital Ltd. The Phoenix sale is subject to regulatory approval. An accord last year to sell its stake in Phoenix to Kushner Funding LLC, based in the United States, fell through.

Noam Pincu, an analyst at Tel Aviv-based Psagot Investment House Ltd, said: "The sale is part of Delek's strategy to focus on gas and was expected." Pincu added that it "may enable Delek to revive its plan to list shares in London in the medium term."

Fosun, backed by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, has been on an overseas acquisition spree, buying insurers, energy companies and properties in Australia, Italy and the US. The company will invest in more insurers in Europe and the US in the coming two years, Guo said in an interview in New York in April.

The transaction adds to growing interest from Chinese investors in Israeli companies.

Last week Xio Group, a closely held Chinese investment firm with more than $3 billion in available capital, agreed to buy Israel's Lumenis Ltd, a maker of medical laser systems, for about $510 million in cash.

Bright Food Group Co Ltd acquired dairy producer Tnuva Food Industries Ltd earlier this year in a deal that valued it at more than $2 billion, and Shanghai Fosun Parmaceutical Group Co bought Alma Lasers Ltd for $222 million in 2013.

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