Saban scoops up stake in Bezeq

Conglom options to buy another 10.66% of Bezeq in 4 years

HOLLYWOOD — A group led by media mogul Haim Saban on Monday acquired a 30% stake in Israel’s dominant telco Bezeq, which owns half of the Yes digital satellite platform, for 4.237 billion shekels ($972 million) in one of the country’s largest privatizations.

Saban’s group includes British private equity firm Apax Partners, which recently put in an $880 million winning bid for British company Hit Entertainment, owner of Barney and other kids properties.

Saban-Apax has an option to buy another 10.66% of Bezeq within four years.

Yes, which had 465,000 subs at the end of 2004, is in the red but is expected to break even next year.

Saban, a Hollywood-based Israeli expatriate, picked up Germany’s ProSiebenSat1 broadcast group in 2003 for around $1.3 billion. There had been speculation in Germany that he would sell his stake to finance the Bezeq deal, which Saban has denied.

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