Bank Hapoalim eyes buying Israel Discount Bank's New York unit

Reuters

JERUSALEM, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Bank Hapoalim,Israel's largest bank, said it was examining the possibility ofbuying rival Israel Discount Bank's New York unit.

It said it was "working to advance the process that willallow the bank to complete the necessary checks regardingDiscount Bancorp," in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchangeon Thursday, without elaborating.

Discount Bancorp is the holding company that owns IsraelDiscount Bank of New York.

Discount, Israel's third-biggest bank, has said it may sellall or part of its New York business to shore up its balancesheet. Net income at its New York subsidiary slipped to $42.7million in 2012 from $45.8 million in 2011, while total assetsrose to $10 billion from $9.5 billion.

Israeli media reports say that Hapoalim is seeking to buythe unit to expand its overseas operations since growth inIsrael is limited. Hapoalim already has branches in New York, aswell as in Miami, London, Paris and Zurich and hasrepresentative offices in Canada, Latin America, Europe andAsia.

Earlier this week, Discount's controlling shareholders solda 7 percent stake in the bank and plan to sell more.

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