Bank Hapoalim Kicks Off Israel's Biggest IPO in Nine Years

(Bloomberg) -- Bank Hapoalim Ltd. plans to sell shares in its credit-card business, in what could be the biggest local initial public offering in almost a decade.

Israel’s second-biggest bank published a draft prospectus for the Tel Aviv offering of Isracard Ltd. and will start meeting investors in the next few weeks, according to an emailed statement on Sunday.

With a book value of about 3.5 billion shekels ($964 million), Isracard’s IPO is set to be the biggest share sale since at least 2010, when shopping-center developer Azrieli Group Ltd. raised the equivalent of about $520 million.

Isracard is the country’s biggest credit-card company, with a transaction volume of 155 billion shekels, or about 45 percent market share. Profit rose 6 percent to 318 million shekels last year.

Hapoalim and its chief rival Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. were forced to sell their credit-card units by 2020 as part of a banking reform to increase competition in the sector. An IPO gives Hapoalim another year to sell down to 40 percent.

Israel’s credit card market has steadily grown in the past few years, buoyed by rising private consumption and an economy that’s expanding faster than Europe and the U.S.

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