Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also Minister of Communications, is not satisfied by the proposal of the country’s largest operator Cellcom to acquire smaller rival Golan Telecom, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
According to sources, he said “Golan did a number on the public and the government.”
The communications ministry has yet to conduct a formal examination but, as its minister, Netenyahu’s approval will be required.
What’s more, having taken over the economy ministry earlier this month, he will choose the next anti-trust commissioner who will also look into the deal.
Earlier this month, Cellcom agreed to purchase Golan, whose backers include French billionaire Xavier Niel, for ILS1.17 billion ($302 million) in a move that “aroused considerable opposition both in the media and, informally, among government officials, including Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon,” according to Haaretz.
The move would see Cellcom add around 900,000 subscribers to its 3 million base and control between 35 per cent to 40 per cent market share. It would face competition from three other operators.
If the acquisition does not go through, Golan will not only have to pay a ILS150 million termination fee to Cellcom but also pay up ILS450 million for use of the latter’s network.
Golan is backed by Michael Golan and Xavier Niel, the founder of French low-cost operator Iliad/Free, who recently bought a minority stake in Telecom Italia.