Israel’s biggest operator Cellcom will allow smaller rival Golan Telecom to hold talks with others over a possible deal, following the failure of their planned merger.

Cellcom said it will allow Golan to take part in talks with two third parties which are not active mobile operators. It added that it too is “conducting negotiations with those third parties for a future collaboration”.

Media reports said one of the groups is led by former Pelephone CEO, Gil Sharon, and the other involves Hezi Bezalel, owner of 018 Xfone.

It was suggested Golan is looking to secure a deal before it is due to pay ILS600 million ($160 million) to Cellcom as part of a national roaming deal which expires in November.

Cellcom wanted to acquire Golan last year for ILS1.17 billion but regulators opposed the move, arguing it was was contrary to efforts to introduce more competition to the market.

This was followed by Golan working on a deal with Hot, a cable TV provider and the country’s number four mobile operator.

However, Cellcom said this was a breach of its agreement with Golan, threatening legal action as well as demanding compensation. It also successfully petitioned a district court to block the deal with Hot.

Now, Cellcom said Golan can talk to third parties “for a possible purchase of Golan Telecom’s share capital or operations or a part thereof, subject to certain conditions, including a prior consensual termination or update of the share purchase agreement to reflect any such agreement”.

The statement said Cellcom and Golan both have also filed a petition against the ministry of communication for not approving the original sale to Cellcom.