Israel’s Cellcom has reportedly approached Golan Telecom over the possibility of a merger, posing a threat to the mooted tie-up between Altice Europe’s Hot Mobile and Partner Communications.
At the end of last month, Hot Mobile made an offer for a 100% takeover of Partner Communications. If the bid is approved, Altice would significantly strengthen its footprint in Israel, enabling it to compete more effectively with Cellcom.
According to business news outlet Globes, this development prompted Cellcom to approach domestic rival Golan Telecom, with the expectation that the country’s Competition Authority and Ministry of Communications would only clear one merger.
The regulators would likely be more amenable to an agreement between Cellcom and Golan as the resulting entity would be far smaller – and therefore less likely to dominate the market – than a merger between Hot Mobile and Partner Communications. Additionally, Cellcom and Golan already have a network-sharing arrangement in place.
However, a 2015 attempt by Cellcom to acquire Golan was blocked by regulators on the grounds that it would reduce the amount of competition in the market.