October 24, 2017 / 7:00 AM / a year ago

Israel's Hapoalim hires Citi to lead sale of credit card unit

JERUSALEM, Oct 24 (Reuters) -

* Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest lender, said on Tuesday it had hired Citi to lead its sale of credit card unit Isracard to either an investor or in the capital market.

* Hapoalim's board in April had instructed management to explore options for selling off Isracard, Israel's largest credit card company.

* The move comes following new regulation meant to increase competition in the sector by prohibiting the country's top two banks from owning credit card companies. Number two Bank Leumi will have to do the same.

* Hapoalim is looking into three options - selling shares of Isracard to the public, selling it to an investor or group of investors, or distributing its shares as a dividend to Hapoalim stakeholders.

* The bank has three years to sell the unit - or four years if it sells Isracard to the public. (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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