Saturday, December 29, 2007
Union Bank: Still an Investment Opportunity?
Two years ago I had identified Bank Igud (Union Bank) as an Investment Opportunity, because it was one of the last banks not to be sold to foreign financial bodies looking to enter the Israeli market. It was also a special situation, owned by two groups who were in permanent conflict, which had paralyzed the bank for years. Later I sold the share with a large loss, because the months passed and nothing happened. Now, Shlomo Eliahu, the largest shareholder in Union Bank of Israel (TASE: UNON), has officially put the stake up for sale. He has given Adv. Ram Caspi power of attorney to sell the stake at a value of 130% on the equity. Union Bank is Israel's sixth largest bank. Eliahu owns 27.12% of Union Bank, worth about NIS 300 million. The bank is currently traded at a multiple of 0.72, which means that Eliahu is asking for an 80% premium on the bank's market cap. The asking price reflects a company value of NIS 2 billion for the bank. Eliahu has wanted to sell Union Bank for a long time in order to participate in the controlling core of Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) without any problems of cross ownership. For the same reason, he sold his stake in Israel Phoenix Assurance Ltd. (TASE: PHOE1;PHOE5) to Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva.