JERUSALEM, June 25 (Reuters) - Bezeq Israel Telecom , Israel’s largest telecoms group, has completed a deal to take full control of its satellite TV unit YES after the communications regulator determined it would not harm competition in the multi-channel TV market.
Bezeq, already a shareholder, bought the remaining 50.2 percent of YES from Eurocom, a company controlled by Shaul and Yosef Elovitch, who also control Bezeq, to bring its stake to 100 percent, it said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Thursday.
It paid 680 million shekels ($180 million) in cash to Eurocom, which will be entitled to up to 370 million shekels more based on tax synergies and on the business results of YES over the next three years.
Bezeq also assumes 1.54 billion shekels of loans provided by Eurocom to YES.
Bezeq, once a state-owned monopoly, has long sought to merge with YES to save costs and allow it to combine TV, phone and Internet sales, something cable company HOT -- its main competitor -- already does.
Israel’s anti-trust commissioner gave its permission for Bezeq to merge with YES last year and earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- acting as communications minister -- gave his approval after Israel’s cable and satellite TV council said there was no reason to reject the deal.
The takeover of YES by Bezeq comes after the government earlier this year created a wholesale telecoms market that allows other companies to use Bezeq’s infrastructure. A number of smaller rivals have already started providing telecoms services by leasing Bezeq’s DSL lines.
In making its case to merge with YES, Bezeq had cited competition, the possible entry of foreign competitors such as Netflix and Apple, as well as a competitive advantage of some rivals which receive international backing.
Cable company HOT is owned by multinational cable group Altice.
$1 = 3.7735 shekels Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Mark Potter