Cellcom appoints acting CEO as Avi Gabbay bids for Partner stake

Cellcom appoints acting CEO as Avi Gabbay bids for Partner stake


The chairman of Cellcom, Doron Cohen, has been appointed acting CEO of the company.

The news followed the resignation of CEO Avi Gabbay, who said on 21 November that he would step down after less than two years in the job.

Gabbay has been quoted in local media as saying: "Cellcom is an excellent company, and with the hard work of all its parts - employees, management and board of directors - we have recently managed to get back on track for investment and profitability. Now is the time for me to take on new challenges."

Cohen was appointed director and chairman of Cellcom's board of directors in March 2020.

His career has seen him serve as CEO of DIC, CEO of IBC and director of Elron Electronic Industries Ltd. He chaired the board of Credito and served as the president of the Israeli Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) since 2013. He's also in politics, taking on the role of Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Director General of the Israeli Governmental Companies Authority.

He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a BA in economics and accounting from the Tel-Aviv University and an MA in law, from the Bar-Ilan University.

Cohen is reported to have said the leadership change "was laid on three foundations: building trust between the company and customers, building a relationship of partnership between management".

He also said: "In the last two years, Avi Gabbay has brought about a huge change in Cellcom, which includes first and foremost laying the foundation for the company's relationship with its customers, and improving the company at all levels and financial results."

Further to the changes, Cellcom has set a date for its AGM, which will be held this week on 2 December. The seven-point agenda for the meeting includes the appointment of the company's chairman as acting CEO, alongside the reappointment of Cohen, Gustavo Traiber (independent director), Eran Shenar, Michael Joseph Salkind and Baruch Itzhak as directors of the Company.

However, the plot thickens, as Gabbay sizes up his move from management to ownership.

According to reports, Gabbay, along with business partner Shlomo Rodav, has offered $330 million for a 27% stake in Partner Communications, Israel's second-largest mobile operator.

One of Partner's founding shareholders is CK Hutchison, which is owned $300 million on the business from Partner's previous controllers Haim Saban and Ilan Ben Dov. With this in mind, Gabbay and Rodav are well positioned to close on the acquisition.

In its financial results posted on 29 November, Partner reported earnings of $7.6 million (24 million shekels) in the July-September period, compared with a five million shekel loss a year earlier.

Revenue was up 5%, helped by subscriber growth in its fibre network, TV and mobile offerings, as well as demand for cellular roaming services. The mobile subscriber base topped 3 million for the first time since 2012, rising 9% to 3.02 million.



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