Hang Lung denies in talks to buy Israel’s Clal Insurance stake

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 July, 2013, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Chinese investment firm Hang Lung Group denied it was in talks to buy a stake in Israeli insurance company Clal Insurance from holding company IDB Development, saying it was not interested in buying businesses outside Hong Kong and mainland China.

IDB said last week it was in advanced talks to sell a 30 per cent stake in Clal Insurance to a group of investors based in China, a deal valued at 4.6 billion shekels (HK$10 billion).

IDB did not name the potential buyer but the Israeli newspapers said it was Chinese investment firm Hang Lung Group.

“Hang Lung Group and Hang Lung Properties would like to set the record straight and state that the two companies have no knowledge of the aforesaid talks or deal,” it said in a statement. “They have neither approached IDB Development for the purchase nor have they had any intention to take up shares in Clal Insurance.”

“The market rumours are groundless and not based on any information from Hang Lung. Hang Lung Group and Hang Lung Properties are not interested in pursuing business opportunities outside Hong Kong and mainland China,” it said.

A Tel Aviv court set a late August deadline for indebted Israeli conglomerate IDB Holding, parent of IDB Development, to sell its stake in Clal Insurance.

IDB said it had received a number of other offers during the process to sell Clal Insurance.

Many of the companies IDB owns have been hit by slowing economic growth and increased competition. IDB Holding owes bondholders 2 billion shekels and IDB Development owes a further 5.8 billion shekels.

Both sets of bondholders - mainly institutional investors led by US hedge fund York Capital - have proposed a debt restructuring that would oust IDB Holding Chairman Nochi Dankner and give them full control of a combined company.