The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Bank Leumi: Family battles for control of Israel’s biggest bank

Bank Leumi might soon have a new owner. But as the government sells its controlling stake in Israel’s biggest bank, Leumi might instead be left without any controlling shareholder. Dominic O’Neill questions the finance minister and central bank over the role of Israel’s banking tycoons.

ISRAEL ELIAHU IS hoping to enhance his company’s position in Israel’s banking market. "The sale of the government’s share will pave the way [for us] to put together a controlling-interest group [in Leumi]," the chief executive of Shlomo Eliahu Holdings says, during a lunch with Euromoney. Shlomo Eliahu Holdings, whose chairman, Shlomo Eliahu, is Israel Eliahu’s father, is already the largest private shareholder in Leumi, Israel’s biggest and oldest bank, with a 9.59% stake.

The government retains a controlling stake of 11.5% in Leumi – the legacy of a banking crisis in the 1980s – but in November finance minister Yuval Steinitz told Euromoney that the remaining shares "will be sold in the next few months".

"My goal is to sell as soon as possible with a good price," says Steinitz. "There is no preference for this or that group." However, he says the shares will probably be sold to an investment bank for widespread distribution – rather than in a block to a group aiming to gain the 20% needed for a privately held controlling stake. Steinitz says this method of market distribution worked well in the staggered sales between January and October this year of the government’s remaining 25% holding in Discount Bank, Israel’s third-biggest lender.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree