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Sirius agrees to acquire Phoenix stake

September 14, 2017

Sirius has entered into a definitive agreement with Delek Group to acquire an initial 4.9 percent stake in Israeli insurer Phoenix Holdings, with an option to purchase the remainder of Delek’s share of the business.

This comes just months after Delek Group’s 2.2bn shekel ($610mn) sale of its 52.3 percent stake in Phoenix to China’s Yango Group collapsed after failing to secure regulatory approval.

Under the terms of the latest deal, Sirius will pay 208mn shekels ($0.6mn) in exchange for a 4.9 percent stake. Sirius will then have 45 days to apply to the Israeli Commissioner of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings for a permit to control the insurer.

Sirius also has a 60-day exclusivity period during which it has the option to acquire the rest of Delek's interest in Phoenix, which amounts to around 47.4 percent, for an additional cash sum of 2.3bn shekels ($657mn), subject to certain adjustments for interest and earnings.

Commenting on the announcement, Sirius chairman and CEO Allan Waters said that the company was confident that the Israeli Commissioner of Insurance will approve it as a controller of Phoenix.

Waters said that Phoenix and Sirius had been business partners for “decades”, adding that through the acquisition of Phoenix, Sirius plans to offer new products to the Israeli market, and views this as an opportunity to develop new technology solutions, while protecting the interests of the Israeli public insured by the company.

Israeli energy conglomerate Delek has been looking to divest its stake in Phoenix in response to an Israeli regulation that prohibits large domestic conglomerates from holding both financial and non-financial businesses.

The latest agreement marks the fourth time the firm has tried to sell its Phoenix share. A 1.8bn shekel deal to sell the Phoenix stake to Fosun collapsed early last year, followed by the failure of a bid from an unnamed US insurer, which was reported to be AmTrust. This was then followed by the abortive sale to Yango Group in June this year.