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Israel's Cellcom says one group drops plan to bid for Golan Telecom

JERUSALEM, Sept 22 One of two groups interested in purchasing Golan Telecom has withdrawn its intention, Cellcom Israel, Israel's largest mobile phone operator, said on Thursday.

On Wednesday Cellcom said it was in talks with two groups over a network sharing agreement worth more than 2.2 billion shekels ($586 million) over 10 years as part of a plan by the groups to buy Golan, a relative newcomer in the Israeli mobile phone sector.

One of the parties is Marathon 018 Xfone while Cellcom referred to the second as just a group of investors, although Israeli media identified it as a consortium of Elco Holdings and Gil Sharon, a former chief executive of Cellcom rival Pelephone.

"The group of investors notified the company today that it is withdrawing from its intention to purchase Golan Telecom and consequently from the negotiations with the company," Cellcom said.

This leaves Marathon 018 as the sole party interested in purchasing Golan.

Cellcom said the network sharing and hosting agreement, which is estimated to be worth 220-250 million shekels a year, is expected to be signed with the group that finally purchases Golan.

($1 = 3.7566 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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